Are you ready to die?
This is not a threat. It’s a simple question.
It’s one of the most fundamental questions that, sooner or later, every human being is going to ask themselves.
Death is the one true fact of life.
It’s coming. You know this.
So... are you ready for it?
I was watching Nomadland the other night. Swankie, a 75-year-old woman, was told she had 7 or 8 months to live. And she said, that’s alright, I’ve seen some pretty awesome things in my life.
She recounted what happened one time she went kayaking:
“… Comin’ round the bend, there was a cliff with hundreds and hundreds of swallow nests on the wall of the cliff and the swallows flying all around…
... and reflecting in the water so it looks like I’m flying with the swallows, and they’re under me and over me and all around me…
... and babies are hatching and eggshells are falling out of the nests and landing on the water and floating on the water…
... these little white shells… and it was just so awesome!
I felt like I had done enough. My life was complete. If I died right then, at that moment, it’d be perfectly fine.”
I was 16 the first time I remember feeling like this. I’d been out of town for a martial arts camp over the weekend and four of us were driving back home on a long, straight highway. I was in the front passenger seat. It had been a long, exhausting weekend. The sun was just setting behind the horizon. Everyone had quieted down. And the sky was on fire, lit up in a thousand shades of fiery orange...
And the moment just felt… complete. There was nothing you could possibly add or take away to make it any better. And I felt like, I could die now, and that would be OK.
Have you ever felt like this?
In our happiest moments, we feel ready to die. We are so appreciative of the present moment, that we allow it to be enough.
It is a state of complete non-judgment. There is nothing you want to add or take away. There is nothing you want to change or control.
When there IS something you want to change or control, you are comparing the actual reality of the present moment to an imagined reality where things are somehow different. And you are judging this present moment as not good enough compared to that imagined fantasy world.
When there’s nothing to change or control, you give yourself permission to fully be here now.
And when there’s no imagined past or future to compare to, when you’re fully HERE, how can the present be anything but perfect?
But that is not all.
Because the present moment is perfect and complete, that also means that it is ENOUGH.
You are completely accepting and appreciating the present moment… yet you have no attachment to it.
Totally grateful for what you are experiencing... but you could take it or leave it.
No attachments and no aversions... even to life itself.
When you completely accept the fact of your own death, the fact that it could all be over at any moment, you surrender to life. And it leaves you in a state of complete appreciation and awe over the fact that you are still experiencing anything.
Have you ever thought about how fucking WILD it is that you are, in fact, having an experience? That you have thoughts and feelings and you can DO THINGS?
Knowing that it all can be taken away from you at any moment... you appreciate what you have, with perfect grace and humility.
Some people may feel like they don’t have much to appreciate.
But compared to an endless, eternal black nothingness forever, you may come to realize you actually have an overwhelming abundance of things to appreciate.
You may not have been diagnosed with cancer, and maybe nobody’s told you that you only have weeks or months or years left to live.
But the truth is that death is always lurking. Just around the corner.
You may not feel ready for it now. You may think you’ll be ready for it later.
You just have to remember that there is no later. It is always right now. And that will still be true when you are a hundred years old, knocking on death’s door.
So... just for now...
... could you allow what IS... to be enough?
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.
~ William Blake
(quote stolen from Kyle Eschenroeder's kickass weekly newsletter, thanks!)
Photo from the private pier at my resort in Koh Mak, from a few weeks ago.