Lately, I have been having a lot of thoughts about my mortality. Rest assured my thoughts are not centred around how or when I will die and don’t get the impression that I am planning my own death. I have much to live for and I kind of like the randomness that today may be the day and that I have no choice in the matter. All of my thoughts are healthy and are centred primarily on how I want to live up until my special day. After watching Gord Downie (of the Tragically Hip) sing his heart out on a national stage while battling terminal brain cancer, I realized that he is solely focused on living and not dying. It made me wonder: am I living to die or am I dying to live?
I have always had a fear of death. Not knowing what is waiting for me on the other side of life had me anxious. I am not an overly religious person so the thought of heaven or hell doesn’t really appeal to me. Nobody has experience with the afterlife so there is no knowledge sharing to be had on the subject. Death is the ultimate personal matter and only those who have gone through it know what is awaiting us, but they can’t share. The more I thought about my death, I came to the conclusion that I am really anxious over nothing. What I realized is that I was not afraid of death as much as I was afraid of dying and when I really stripped it down, I was afraid of living.
As a member of the only species on earth that knows it will die, we also have the amazing ability to choose the way we live. When we become at ease with the way we live, dying becomes less intimidating. Problem is, a lot of us (myself included) have a difficult time living. We get caught up pleasing others and conforming to societal norms that we never live out our true being. When we fail to live to our potential, we become anxious that we are running out of time. When we get older, we shut down and give up. Death becomes our enemy and we believe we can no longer outrun it. Like a grade school project that you put off working on until the night before its due and you have two choices: cram and finish, or give up and fail. Living is our choice.
To ease my mind about death. I must remain focused on living. Living a life not for the sake of existing but of creating. Creating an example of a life that those I leave behind have something to grow on. Building a legacy does not mean leaving behind a fortune or a revolutionary changing world. Building a legacy means leaving the world a little better than when you entered it. My hope is that my legacy inspired those I left behind to live their lives earlier than I had started. I have to be focused on living so much that focusing on death becomes frivolous.