I’m calling this year my half birthday. I’m halfway to dead. Seventy seems like a good year to go (and near average life expectancy), so today I’m halfway (actually, according to deathclock.com I should be kicking it on Friday, March 4, 2050–close enough) Yippee. Why am I so happy?
Call me morbid, but I like thinking about death. It has been my primary meditation over the last few years, and it has made me really appreciate life. We all know the cliche, live each day as if it’s your last. But it’s really impossible to do that. If I knew it was my last day, I’d quit my job, pull my kids from school, grab my beautiful wife, buy a case of craft beer and a stack of good pizzas, and go to a sunny, warm beach.
So we can’t really live our life as if it’s our last day. The world would shut down. We have to live our entire life as if it is our last life. I have to go to work, pay taxes, change diapers, all as if it’s my last time. Every moment has to have its beauty, even if it is only beautiful in a stinky, sucky kind of way. That’s why I decided to live as if I’m retired and work my job as if I’m a volunteer (see, Quit Your Job). Sure I’d like to move the family to Costa Rica and live off the land. Maybe someday I will, as soon as I learn to grow pizza and beer. I love websites like The Art of Nonconformity, which challenge us to defy typical life expectations. I try to do that in small ways everyday. But a conventional life is okay–kids, job, mortgage. I have great kids, a fun job (when I make it fun), and I can pay the mortgage.
I like thinking about death because it reminds me to really live. Give up and die means really living. Let go of what is not essential.
If you could, would you like to know the exact date of your death? If you knew this date, how would that change your life right now?
For me, the answer is a resounding yes. Knowing that death is near makes life precious. Or as Wonka says, my favorite character in Shelter (check out his death meditations at !@#$!@#$), “everyday I imagine my death…then I do whatever the hell I want.” Something like that.
Smile, you’re going die. For more on death, Start Here.