Our Big Mistake: Our Dying Day
It governs our life, it governs our death. We live in fear, always awaiting its approach. It lurks in the distance, just out of sight. We refuse to talk about it. God forbid we bring it up, and invite it into our home. We cry when it happens. We do all we can to prevent its appearance.
Death is the end of the road, isn't it? On this last day, each of us will take our final breath. No more conversations, thoughts, feelings or sensations will follow. It's scary to think about what we become after that point.
Every religion has done its best to find the answer to what follows. Yet here we are, still mulling over the same question. All humans are left with the same eventuality: we're all going to die. Where does that leave us?
We do our best to squeeze every last drop out of life before our fateful day. We do everything we can do to prevent getting old. To keep ourselves out of the grave.
But is death really something we should fear?
The philosopher Seneca found a different view. For him, life and death weren't a matter of one or the other, black or white. Instead, they fell along a continuum. You are never fully alive, and you are never fully dead.
"This is our big mistake: to think we look forward to death. Most of death is already gone. Whatever time has passed is owned by death." -Seneca
Every moment we've lived in life is a moment we'll never get back. So every moment behind us is a moment that is dead to us. And all of those moments have led us one step closer to our final day.
Think of the hourglass: for every minute of the hour that sand drops from the upper to the lower, the hourglass lives in a state of limbo. Neither half is full and neither half is empty. It makes a constant progression towards the end of the hour.
Every moment that grains of sand fall is a moment of both life and death. Life in the fact that more sand is left to fall. And death in the fact that every grain that has already fallen has pushed it slightly closer to the end.
Is death really such a final event? Or is death just as much a part of the process as life is?
Maybe Seneca is teaching us to treat death less as a final destination and more as a journey
Death is not some destination we need to spend our time dwelling on. After all, we're all going to get there. But instead, death is something we should be aware of...that we should treat with respect. Because our death exists in every moment of our life.