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Preparing to Die (also known as Life)

July 2, 2009

Dear Reader,

I look around me, and I see people that, instead of living, are preparing for death. Every one of their actions, or at least the majority of them, are not dedicated to a life, but to their death, and their inevitable attainment of it.

It’s like they want to die, or at least scared of life. They want to lose the responsibility that comes with living, and just want to lay low or something.

Take life insurance, for example. People buy life insurance policies in case they die – wasting money that could be used in life for death. Or the idea of wills. Or people living for future gratification – like their legacy after their deaths. Take religion, with each person trying to “buy” their way into heaven by displaying the virtues their religion endorses. It seems to me that these people are so concerned with death that they spend their entire life in wait of it – trying to buy a better death, whether it’s a guaranteed spot in Heaven/Paradise/Whatever afterlife you believe in, or, if they’re of the more secular type, some sort of legacy to remember them by (though, the two are not mutually exclusive).

I’m reminded of a couple of quotes from my two favorite movies: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Gladiator.

The first:

Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

And the second:

We mortals are but shadows and dust.

How is it that people now (or ever, maybe it’s part of the human condition) don’t see that life is a gift, a privilege, and our time is continually running out? Shouldn’t we live life to the fullest, embrace our hopes, our dreams, since we truly only have one shot at this? Yes, you religious readers out there may say that we have eternal life after this one, but I say that, regardless, we should live here while we know we’re here, and not part of some cosmic spiritual entity, or however people try to envision life after death (hint: if it’s life after death, then death isn’t really total, right? And if it’s like that, then I say live as if you’re going to live forever! Why prepare for it?).

We mortals are but shadows and dust. It’s true. No matter how much you want to live a life that other people will admire when you’re gone, you must abandon those ideas. Why? Because they, too, will all be gone in some time, and what then? Your memory will be short lived, which is precisely the opposite of what you wanted to happen, correct? You wanted to be remembered since it granted you permanence, some sort of vicarious immortality through peoples’ memory of you. But, they too shall die, and they will also cease to be remembered by anyone. So, instead of striving vainly for the impossible – immortality – seek instead to be in the moment, and enjoy your life as it happens. Like Ferris said, if you don’t stop and take a look around once in awhile, life could pass you by. Don’t.

And some will ask me, inevitably, “Prince, how do you live?”

And I will say: do things you love to do. Do whatever it is you find happiness and excitement in, whatever you genuinely like to do, and do it as often as possible. If you get burnt out, then there’s no problem – just find something else you love to do and repeat the same process.

But still there will be some that will ask, “But what if there’s nothing I truly love to do?”

I would respond: get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Do it for a month or more, and then pass judgment on whether you like it or not. The key is not to quit during the initial stages. If you decide you like it, awesome! Now dedicate yourself to becoming a master at it, or at least improving. The litmus test for whether you truly like something or not is if progression comes naturally – you find yourself wanting to keep doing it and improving. If you don’t find it fun or rewarding, then drop it.

Also consider doing things that scare you. Transcending fear does a lot to get people back in love with life.

Above all, people, heed the words of Marcus Aurelius:

Princiom #5: When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive–to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Seize the day, my friends.

Gathering my rosebuds while I may,
The Prince

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 3, 2009 10:24 am

    Part of the problem might be figuring out what we think really matters in our life. If nothing matters, then we won’t enjoy life. Marcus Aurelius found emotions to be cognitive, and it is still a popular theory.

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