making friends with your own mortality
We know Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death" poem, but do we actually think about our own mortality on a daily basis?
Why is it that only the most catastrophic scares and events - a death in a the family, a car accident, an illness - shake us out of the illusion that we're gonna be here, in this body, forever? For me, making friends with my own mortality (or at least trying to!) has helped me find greater meaning and joy in my life, and I hope it offers a similar gift for you.
So, what does making friends with your own mortality look like?
Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying" song is actually a nice little country-fied guide to doing just that. To me, however, it means trying to live each day as if it were my last. That's thrown around a lot in our culture, but it actually means contemplating - if this were my last sip of tea, my last conversation with this person, my last walk around Lincoln Park, how would I feel? What would I notice?
When I contemplate my own mortality I get yanked out of the cycle of not-enough-nesss, of jealousy and comparison, of meetings and must-dos, and instead I wander to a place of greater ease, a place of much more fun, laughter, and peace.
Making friends with my own death means being friendly to fellow humans all around me - we're going through this journey of mortality together and maybe, as Ram Das shares it so eloquently, we're all just walking one another home.
No one wants their last day to be filled with angst, stress or frustration. If we can keep a whisper or shadow of our own mortality as we move about our day, perhaps we would be kinder to ourselves and others. Maybe we would smile at a stranger we're crammed in next to on the metro. Maybe we would actually give that homeless person a dollar. Maybe we would tell those we love just how much they mean to us.
I'll end these notes with the words that inspired these reflections - Eckart Tolle's The Power of Now: Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to "die before you die" - and find that there is no death.
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