I just read an interesting article entitled, “How the World’s Most Venomous Fish Convinced Me to Stop Working Myself to Death.”
The details were fascinating, but I knew what the conclusion was going to be before I even started reading. Speaking from experience, there’s nothing like a brush with mortality, or the actual mortality of someone you love, to make you reassess your priorities.
For example, when the police called me to say that they had found my boyfriend’s body in his truck, still clutching his asthma inhaler, in the pharmacy parking lot just a few blocks from our apartment, I swear I could see my whole entire life crumbling around me as I sank to the floor. I instantly came down with the flu, and couldn’t hear a sound for three days. Go figure.
You’d think the quiet would have given me plenty of time to think, but shock isn’t like that, really. I felt more like the blue screen of death you see on your computer right before it completely and utterly crashes. There was very little brain function going on. And in the months and years that followed, I emerged as an entirely different person.
Most people, whether they know it or not, take life for granted. It’s only when you look the grim reaper dead in the eye that you suddenly realize that everything is temporary. Everything.
Once you know the temporal nature of life, a lot of things cease to matter. The only real important thing is that you’re alive, and that’s a gift. You look round and you see people getting all worked up about the silliest things, and you want to shake them.
“You’re alive! Don’t you get it?”
That feeling makes you unwilling to work at a job that you hate or stay in a toxic relationship. It makes you focus on quality of life, which you have a bit of control over, rather than quantity of life, which you clearly can’t control at all. It makes you truly figure out what matters to you.
But most of all, it makes you appreciate, for the first time, absolutely everything. It’s all a gift. It all goes by so fast. It’s all so special.
I knew that by experiencing the worst thing in life, I had been given something really precious. My eyes were truly open. I wanted to always live in that state of awareness.
But I knew that over time, I’d fall back into my life routines, and the feeling would fade, or at least be smothered by the minutiae of the day to day. Mortality awareness takes a lot of work, and I can understand why most people kind of put that off until the last possible moment. It can be an extremely unsettling feeling that is very hard to sustain.
I wish there was a way to explain this to you so that it would sink in deep without you needing to experience tragedy on your own. Having your eyes opened is priceless. And sure, I’m not nearly as “woke” as I was during that first year, but I do make a conscious effort to remember what it felt like. Because meeting death causes you to truly fall in love with life. And I want to love life with every fiber of my being. I want that for you, too, dear reader.
Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5