In my corner of the world, the last week of September began with the news that yet another gifted musician departed from this world. He was young, only 55. Like any other premature passing of someone I know or value, this was a gentle reminder that regardless of how I spend my time on Earth, the ending is always the same.
I didn’t feel sad for him because death is not actually an end, but a transition. Moreover, he had a purpose-driven life. His songs, books, and gentle soul brought light into millions of other souls. His eyes were bright, even in the darkest hour, because he knew that the biggest challenges are also the biggest opportunities. But I did feel sad this morning, though. I felt sad for all those empty-eyed, poker-faced people I cross paths with every day. I felt sad for all of us living brainwashed and coping with autopilot existences.
We mind what other people might think or say about us; we hold on to jobs we hate; we stay in toxic relationships. We do too much of what we are supposed to and too little of what brings us joy. We use common sense as an excuse to turn a deaf year to the voice of our inner child. We collect too many objects and not enough memories. We look down at our cell phone screens instead of looking up at the ever-changing canvas of the sky. Our fingers know how to punch and touch and swipe, but they forgot how to caress and feel and adore. The prolongation of our hand is no longer the hand of another human being, but an electronic device.
We live in our heads and phones. We forget what we’ve just said or done. We can’t find our keys, our socks, our hearts. We constantly lose our heads and minds. Every day is a long rush to get things done without ever questioning why.
Why are we so afraid to stop? Why do we settle for the status quo? Why do we act like zombies? Why do we give in to fear over and over again? Why do we give up our freedom so easily? Why do we need other people, from governments to experts, to tell us what to do? We claim we are grown-ups yet we behave like children. Unable to make decisions, we need advice, guidance, validation. No wonder there are so many gurus and teachers ready to share their experience. Tell us how to live, how to become experts in everything, from perfectly lighting a match to writing a text message. They seduce us with the promise of achieving success, happiness, perfection – abstract notions we haven’t quite pinned yet on our vision boards.
We can barely make a living, let alone a life, yet we dread death, the moment we lose what we don’t have. Under the circumstances, the certitude of death is the biggest gift we can get and not because it will free us from pain.
Since death is the worst thing that can fall upon us in our lifetime and it’s going to happen no matter what we do, why not live every day in celebration? Why not live?