It was the first week of 2017 and I was feeling really miserable. A close friend of mine had just been diagnosed with cancer of the kidneys four days before Christmas. Hearing that kind of news shifted my focus to my friend, who had just settled in another country looking for better prospects. Only weeks before she said that things were going well for her. She was jubilant and looking forward to her new life since she moved away from the terrible conditions that she was living in.
The whole furore of Christmas and talking to my friend left me with a great sense of depletion. I recently found employment and I even worked in the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. While I was working I thought about my friend, who told me that she did not want any medication and preferred to live with just her memories. I started to question my own mortality. I began to ask myself this question, "What is the point to New Year's Eve"? I thought about the over aggrandisement of all that fuss. I mean, a moment in time quantifiable between one second and the next to mark a new year is unapologetically confusing. So much misunderstanding surrounds our end of year celebrations, courtesy of the Gregorian calendar, leaving us woefully ignorant about the true definition of the change of year and moon cycles.
Around 11:00 pm on New Year's Eve I was about to commit to the same ritual that I did every year, entertaining Jools Holland's Hootenanny on TV and then watching the fireworks from my window. Then I thought about the pledge I had made on New Year's Eve 2015 saying "Next year is going to be my year". However, what with 2016 leaving me with not much work for most of it, it was anything but "my year". Also many iconic people had died during 2016, which made me think that each day that I awake is one day closer to my own earthly departure. This led to a downward spiral of knowing the beginning of the New Year will be fraught with inflation. Public transport prices would soon be rising then the dalliance of reducing that transport service made me think that death is the only thing we can ever guarantee to arrive on time. Oh by the way, did I mention that I am a motivational speaker?
What do we really have to look forward to other than death?
Now, before you line up to accuse me of being pessimistic or heretic, let me offer some perspective.
The subject of death is misunderstood and where it seems to be the end to most, it comforts the traveller in search of enlightenment to herald the beginning of a new dawn. Death anxiety is very much a taboo subject and incredible amounts of people truly believe that they will die of old age, having most of their adult life to ignore it. Let us not deny that death is an untimely passing and also very palpable.
Like I said, most of us never really think that it will come anytime soon. However it makes me incredibly resilient to know that death looms and yet motivates me to live a more honest life with purpose, rather than simply existing with ignorance. The best literary account on death that supports my view is the book by Ernest Becker called "The Denial of Death". Where this book may appear morbid it is uniquely emotional and moving toward appreciation.
Death maybe as insipid as it is frightening but in Mexico they celebrate the notion that it is completely acceptable to have a day devoted to it ( Dia de los Muertos) not in fear of dying, but knowledge of a prosperous life is to include death's inevitability.
Whenever I feel down I tend to pick myself up by knowing that I represent the sages of ancient thought. They knew that remembrance of our own mortality means you have a chance to give everything of yourself to get what you want. I'm not suggesting living each day as if it were your last, moreover, to appreciate the things that you blatantly take for granted. So for example:
• Don't ignore your true essence.
• Forgive those that have done you wrong.
• Give wherever possible and expect nothing in return.
• Choose how to live your life and create synthesis with your desires.
This is your right to an intelligence that will transform you to another realm, as it did when it brought you here in the first place. Put to death old habits that no longer serve your growth and play host to resurrecting a new life with meaning.
All together now...Memento Mori
(Remember that you have to die)