Daily Writing

Thinking About Death

How often do you actively think about aging and/or dying? I think about it a lot. Then, I wonder if I think about it too much or if others think about it too little? Is there a benefit to thinking about it? Does it change how I live my life? Scientists say we are the only creatures who know they will die. Do you think that is true? How would they know? Would life be better or worse if we didn’t think we would die? Would you prefer not to know?

Any day can be our last. I found out today that someone I know, not well but still know, had a massive stroke. Not too long ago, I learned that my primary care physician had a heart attack and died; she wasn’t that old. Neither of these individuals was that old. They both went to bed the night before and woke up thinking it would be a typical day. How fragile it all is.

It is easy to think of our body as this machine with a timer. The average age people die is like our warranty; we believe it applies to us. People live to their 80s. Therefore, I most likely will too. You hear songs, poems, and quotes saying, “live each day like it is your last.” I wonder if anyone but someone dying is capable of this.

Because if I was living my life like tomorrow is my last day, I would be doing many things differently right now. First, I wouldn’t be worrying about my statistics homework. I wouldn’t be watching television. I’d be calling everyone I knew whom I loved. Contacting people to ensure my beloved dog Charlie goes to a good home. Writing a will to designate my assets accordingly. Writing a memoir of everything I ever wanted to say to anybody. I would order and eat all my favorite foods regardless of calorie count. I would probably cry and pray.

As you can see, living like tomorrow will be our last is not reasonable. Frankly, it would be a bit insane. I may be taking the meaning of the saying too literally. However, for people like me, who prefer to have things in black and white. The grey space is hard. What is the expectation? What is reasonable? So is the saying then just this bullshit thing we throw around, which allows us periodically to have this moment of insightful introspection? Then we flip the tv on and go about our day?

People might say it is just about being grateful every day and appreciating the things that we have. I can’t even follow a simple diet plan daily; how do I live in any sort of fashion every day? Incorporating more gratitude is a reasonable goal. Living with more gratitude is not the same as living every day like it is your last, but perhaps that is what the author meant or as close to it as we can humanly manage.

I could go on exploring this topic, but I have more questions than commentary. Questions that have no answer. Are questions that have no answer useless to ponder? No more questions for tonight.

Cover Photo by Valentin Salja on Unsplash

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