Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
In his thought-provoking and inspiring commencement speech to the 2005 graduating class at Stanford University, Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said:
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Jobs was right; almost everything falls apart in the face of death. He probably had this conviction based on his scare with pancreatic cancer that eventually took his life. We are all going to DIE at some point in our brief stay here on earth. It could happen any time; the challenge is we do not know when; hence we waste our time believing we still have lots of it, we procrastinate, we fail to prioritize, we major in minor things, and at the end of our life we are filled with regrets, should have and could have.
Death is the great equalizer
My first real deep personal contact with death was losing my closest cousin in 2013, it got to my core, and I moved on eventually but still feel the loss daily. In 2019, I lost my mum at a considerably young age of 55 to cancer, and I was devasted, shell shocked; I felt loads of different emotions – anger, nakedness, helplessness, powerless and at the end, got the greatest lesson of my life – Death could happen anytime. I lost my cousin in a tragic scenario, my mum to cancer, have seen people go by just slipping on the floor. These experiences with death made me have a paradigm shift in how I lead my life. As Steve Jobs said, “Remembering that you are going to die the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”. I am already naked and need to live life on my own terms, living my truth, following my bliss, taking responsibility for my actions, and living a legacy in the process.
“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. … The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” ~ Seneca
I wear the Memento Mori Pendant and carry with me the Memento Mori Medallion to remind myself of my eventual mortality. I try to meditate on my eventual death daily as it keeps me grounded to focus on the big rocks of life, re-order my priorities and be mindful of my existence.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
We are all here for a short period of time; we are living on borrowed times. No matter how long we think we have, we are all going to DIE. As the Buddha once said, “The trouble is, you think you have time.” The Illusion of time makes most of us waste our limited, finite resource – time. Our time is irreplaceable; once it is spent, you can not get it back.
We all start the day with the same amount of time: 86,400 seconds, 1,440 minutes, 24 hours. The billionaire, the homeless, the politician, the celebrity, the entrepreneur, and the 9-5er. We all start the same way but what determines how successful we become is our use of time, which invariably determines our decision making, choices, and routine. Imagine your time like a bank account with credits of $86,400 each morning, and it is carried over no balance from day-to-day.
Each of us has such a bank. It’s name is TIME.
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.
It carries over no balance.
It allows no overdraft.
Each day it opens a new account for you.
Each night it burns the remains of the day.
If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no going back. There is no drawing against the “tomorrow”.
You must live in the present on today’s deposits.
Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!
The clock is running. Make the most of today
It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when life will happen to us all. Whether it is job loss, death, grief, miscarriage, infertility, childhood trauma, indebtedness, depression, health issues, you name it, we all go through it. You are either heading into a storm, going through a storm, or coming out of a storm. The key to navigating the rollercoaster of challenges called life is to learn about the season of life you are in and know that this too shall pass. Do not let success get into your head, and do not let failure get into your heart.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain.”
As psychologist and author Tara Brach, Ph.D., describes in her book: Radical Acceptance: Awakening the Love that Heals Fear and Shame:
Radical Acceptance is knowing that, whatever arises, whatever we can’t embrace with love, imprisons us — no matter what it is. If we are at war with it, we stay in prison. It is for the freedom and healing of our own hearts, that we learn to recognize and allow our inner life.
We suffer when we cling to or resist experience, when we want life different than it is. As the saying goes: “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
Radical Acceptance enables us to return to the root or origin of who we are, to the source of our being. When we are unconditionally kind and present, we directly dissolve the trance of unworthiness and separation. In accepting the waves of thought and feeling that arise and pass away, we realize our deepest nature, our original nature, as a boundless sea of wakefulness and – love.
You are already Naked
Knowing you are already naked would give you the confidence and courage to live life on your own terms. Australian palliative caregiver Brommie Ware, documented the top regrets of her dying patients, their insights on living, their dying epiphanies, and their top regrets. She writes in her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, the 5 top Regrets of the Dying includes:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Life is over so quickly. It is possible to reach the end with no regrets. It takes some bravery to live it right, to honour the life you are here to live but the choice is yours. So will be the rewards. Appreciate the time you have left by valuing all of the gifts in your life and that includes especially, your own, amazing self.
On top of the list of what the dying regret the most, according to Brommie Ware, is that they wished they had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them. I suspect that most of us would feel the same way on our dying beds. We would wish we lived life on our own terms instead of the expectations and opinions of others. But, instead, we get sucked in with the minutiae, trivialities, vicissitudes of life. We are busy paying bills, going to jobs we don’t like, trying to impress colleagues we cannot stand, working for bosses we despise, caring what everyone thinks about us, and in the process, wasting the finite resource we have -time.
When you’re 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking about you. When you’re 40, you don’t give a darn what anybody thinks of you. When you’re 60, you realize that nobody has been thinking about you at all!
At the end of the day, we have approximately 30,000 days to live, and the clock is ticking every day. So Momento Mori – Remember you have to DIE. The key to living like you are already naked is to confront your fears, live courageously, trust your instinct and follow through relentlessly.
“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” – Marcus Aurelius
All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.