...from a post that makes a lot of sense to me.
"...I think much of our fear ironically comes from not accepting the
inherent insecurity of our existence. Society tells us the lie that we
can create security, that it should in fact be our life’s work.
We buy into this mindset but secretly try to also comprehend that
“one day” when all will be taken away from us – even our very
consciousness itself. Something in the limited human mind might think we
can hide from it, outsmart it, out-save it, out-eat or out-exercise it.
I see how our health efforts as well as other “sensible” choices can
obscure a desperate denial of mortality. We think if we just do certain
things we’ll be kept safe for a little while longer. We’ll stave off the
inevitable if we just do everything “right” to keep ourselves perfectly
well and secure.
Yet, I don’t choose to live the way I do in order to be perfect or safe. I occasionally make compromises for things I really want to eat. I do “unsafe” (not the same
as foolhardy) things all the time. Exiting a helicopter to snowboard a
more amazing mountain, I’ll acknowledge, isn’t playing it safe. While I
trust my own skill and limits, I also know that to a certain extent I’m
taking my life in my hands when I do that. Yet, I have always been drawn
to risk. It’s in my fiber. I think it’s part of all of us and what has
moved humanity forward in its evolution. (I recognize at the same time
that other people’s version of desirable, satisfying risk looks much different than mine.)
A full life is one in which I feel I’m living from my whole human and
individual nature. That includes risk of many kinds. And I desire to
live (my version of) a full life more than I desire to be completely
safe. Security isn’t my aim. Actualization is. My goal isn’t to live to
be 100. It’s to compress morbidity
and enjoy the biggest life possible in the number of years I’m alive on
this planet. I let go of the ultimate outcome in the interest of living
well today. I can choose to not do stupid things, but I’m ultimately
not in control. I let go of fear in order to function.
There’s a profound and maybe beautiful irony here. Just as our
fundamental instinct for survival wants to nail down surety and safety,
Life with a capital L obliges us to check our need for absolute security
at the door. The truth is, we always exist on the brink. It’s the nature of life
itself – a confoundingly complex puzzle of infinite moving parts – ever
shifting between creation and destruction. We have the capacity to
observe this rhythm, but we’re also fully subject to it. As they say,
none of us are going to get out of this game alive.
When we accept this truth, we can let it work within us. We can learn
to configure our lives within the fact that we’re finite, that every
single day is uncertain. We can live a different life – a more courageous and expansive life
in acceptance of that hard reality. Fear of death, just like fear of
almost anything, can keep us small. We shirk risk and its rewards for
the promise of time that may never come.
While I’m not a believer in the afterlife, that doesn’t mean I don’t
feel the significance or weight of the end of life. I tend to lean
toward the concept of detachment. The ultimate fear we conquer is the
fear of death. To accept our own finiteness is perhaps our final work in
this life. The more we cling to ourselves, the more painful the
prospect of dying is. The more we identify with a larger context than
ourselves, the less suffering, despair or fear we face. We may not be
immune to dark thoughts, but we put them in a bigger container.
I think over time we grow into our mortality as we do our maturity.
That said, I’ve seen 70- year-olds who grasped desperately to the bitter
and fearful end. Likewise, I’ve seen 7-year-olds dying of cancer accept
their death with a knowing grace that both stuns and humbles. When we
can emotionally as well as intellectually place ourselves within a
larger storyline and accept life as the grand primal epic that it is, we find a right place within life – and perhaps make peace with death as a meaningful dimension of it.