Yes, it’s scary but it’s the truth. You will die.
That man you hate for breaking your heart, yes, he will die too.
That boss who puts a lot of pressure on you, she will die as well.
And what about the person you love? The teacher you admire. The celebrities you follow…
And your parents. Your siblings and relatives. Your friends and your enemies.
Guess what, sooner or later they will all face death.
And what makes it even scarier is that any day could be the day.
Regardless of your age, your wealth, your race, or whatever your circumstances are, any day could be your last day alive.
I don’t mean to sound dramatic. But this is reality. Death is beyond our control. And it’s non-negotiable.
Steve Jobs delivered a commencement address to the graduates of Stanford University in June 2005. His message about death was an eye-opener.
He said [emphasis mine]:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Maybe you’re thinking you should give up everything and follow your heart and pursue your dreams… Because what if you die today, right?
That’s your decision. But I’d suggest, be rational (as long as you can). Just because your dream is to travel the world doesn’t mean you just instantly leave everything. Consider your unique situation. Find alternatives.
Also, this isn’t only about following our hearts and pursuing dreams. There’s another thing I like about contemplating our own or everyone’s death:
It makes us a better person.
Because if you know any day could be the last day of your loved ones (or maybe your day), it’s most likely that you’ll treat them with all your attention and love and kindness.
I’ve been practicing it for years, although sometimes I forget. But I can attest that it has truly changed the way I treat people, the way I think, and the way I view life.
This made me think: If we can put this truth upfront in our daily consciousness, maybe things will be a little bit better.
Less hatred. Less complains. Less fights. Less negativity. Less bullshit.
Trivia: The Buddhists call this practice as Maranasati, which means death awareness. The Stoics also practice Memento Mori, which means remember death.