Dealing with Our Mortality – Day 129 of 365 Days to a Better You

Today’s Affirmation

Whatever comes, I embrace every bit of it!

I enjoy the way Sirius/XM has radio stations playing songs from all the decades of my life. Tuning in anywhere from 60s on 6 to Pop Y2K immediately brings back memories of those times. Driving home from my daily ride to Boston this morning, I worked my way down the dial and reflected.

There are a lot of years in the rearview mirror these days and a lot of tread on these tires. Each decade reminds me of important pieces of who I am and that the years are racing by.

Our black Lab, Mia, is going to turn 15 this Saturday. That’s 105 to you and me. She’s uber-geriatric for a Lab. I work from home and so I spend much of my day with her and have since she was a puppy. The sense that she’s coming to the end has been palpable in recent months. It hangs in the air like a stench. We enjoy each day – some rough and some better. She’s had a great life and we try to give her as much more as we can every day.

It makes me think how every living thing (or composite thing as the Buddha used to say) has a lifecycle that includes the exuberance of youth, the mellowness and stress of middle age, the slow deterioration that inevitably comes with old age, and eventually we perish.

Wow, Ray! That’s a downer for a Thursday morning. I don’t mean to bring you down, but this is reality we all face as living beings. Humanity has found several templated ways of dealing this eventuality.

  1. Hedonist – some say live for now. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. Many people who hold this view believe that our existence is some kind of accident and there is nothing, but now and we better take it while it’s here.
  2. Be Here Now – like the first group, these people believe that the now is all there is. Past and future are either not guaranteed for imaginary in some way. They’re not indulgent like the hedonist, but they do believe that now is the most important.
  3. Next Life & Reward – others put their stock in some future “there and then” that will be more pleasant than today. They often see this as a reward for believing the right things about this world. While there are nuances, many put more focus on that world than on this one.
  4. It’s All an Illusion – some philosophies believe that this world is an illusory world and the escape hatch is discovered by recognizing the the illusion and escaping through some kind of enlightenment.

My purpose here is not to criticize any of these ideas. I mean part of the mystery is we just don’t know. You can believe something very strongly, but to claim you absolutely know what happens after this life is just untrue.

For me, they all have strengths and their weaknesses. Their ramifications play out in our world in positive and negative ways. I won’t outline those in this post, but if you follow any of them to their logical conclusion, you’ll find their benefits and their flaws.

Power hack: None of this changes our reality. So, what do we do? What are we to think? I’ve been dealing with the prospect of my own mortality from a much younger age than most. I’ve a lot of years to think about it.

Here’s where I’ve arrived. Whether we’re temporary or eternal, illusory or real, the cause of it all or an accident; we must embrace it all. It’s all a part of who we are. Embrace what’s here and embrace whatever’s next.

What if we choose to see this common living and dying path every human – indeed every living thing – is experiencing through eyes of understanding and compassion? What if we focused on that profound commonality rather than all the superficial differences? What if we got up every morning and just said, “Yes,” to it all regardless of what it is, how long it lasts, or what reward we might get later? What if we stopped worrying about who’s wrong and who’s right and, instead, applied a little wisdom to our mutual dilemma?

What kind of a world would we have? Well, that’s the question I will leave you to ponder this morning!

Thanks so much for reading this blog. If you get something positive from it, please share it with a friends. Have an AWESOME day!

Ray

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The Ultimate Mystery – Day 89 of 365 Days to a Better You

The ultimate mystery…

“For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.”
~Khalil Gibran

We cannot leave a week of seeking the unknown without addressing the most profound unknown in our experience. Though we’re in these bodies having these experiences for a mere 100 years or less, we become attached. Few people escape the fear of death.

We have many beliefs about death and I’m not asking you to change yours. One thing is clear. None of us absolutely 100 percent knows what comes when we die. Even the most fervent religious believer, if honest, must concede that speculation about death is a matter of faith.

So, what do you do with something so frightening yet so certain? I certainly don’t have definitive answers, but here are some thoughts that I hope will help you.

  1. Be here now and live it fully. There’s no substitute for and no promise beyond this moment. “Do not go gently into that good night…rage, rage against the dying of the light,” wrote Dylan Thomas.
  2. What you believe happens when you die plays a huge role in how you live. We constantly see in our world how beliefs about the afterlife control how people live both positively and negatively. Whatever belief you arrive at, find a way to use it to make a positive contribution while you’re here.
  3. Consider the Gibran quote above. Perhaps life and death are not the separate things you think they are. They may be part of an eternal process you’ve experienced many times. For some, it provides solace that you are an old-hand at this living and dying stuff.
  4. See death as the next great adventure. I’m one of those who loves to put my hands in the air on a roller coaster. That feeling of letting go and letting the ride happen is exhilarating. The life-death cycle could be viewed like that roller coaster. Once you’re buckled in, you’re going to finish the ride. You might as well enjoy it.
  5.  How do you want to be remembered? Live your life moment-by-moment, day-by-day, year-by-year in a way that has an impact on others and the world around you.
  6. “Don’t die,” Wayne Dyer used to say, “with your song still in you.” Do what you came here to do. Be who you came here to be. Then you can go into whatever comes next with a fearless confidence.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his 1933 Inauguration Speech:

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Everyone who has ever lived has died. You are no exception, but it need not paralyze you. Let it catalyze you and make you the most amazing person you can be.

Stay inspired!

Ray

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