Sono io la Morte e porto corona
Io son di tutti voi Signora e Padrona
Well today, Nov. 1, seemed like an auspicious day to begin a new series of articles about death and the afterlife.
Since death, obviously, is as old as time and life itself, theories about the afterlife and what happens when people die have also existed since mankind first came into being. Each culture has always claimed to own the truth on this topic, as opposed to all other cultures which, obviously, are always wrong. Right?
Well, the one thing that IS certain, is that death, like the tax man, is unavoidable and ineluctable.
We Are All Equal Before Death
Death is the great equalizer. When faced with death, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the elegant and the vulgar, famous celebrities and anonymous citizens all find themselves equal.
Before the unchallengeable stare of the Lord of the Underworld, no one enjoys greater privileges. You can't bribe your way to eternal life, buy it, bargain for it or cheat to obtain it. Everyone will die someday, no matter who you are or what you have.
And speaking of what you have, when standing before the moment of truth, the last instant of your life, it will no longer make any difference how many homes or cars you own, how large the figures of your bank account are or how pompous your job title sounds. You can't take any of that with you into the other world.
The only thing that lives on after you, are the memories of the things that you did while you were alive.
The memories of how much you loved, and were beloved in return.
Or the remembrance of how much you hated, sneered at people, looked down at them, mistreated them and betrayed them, if that is all you did in your lifetime.
So What Will You Leave Behind?
So what DOES matter to the world, once we are dead?
Do you think your cousins and in-laws really care about how many contracts you snagged for your company, or all the promotions and medals your boss once bestowed on you? If you have children, do you think they will remember you for your reputation in society?
No, the only thing that matters, the only thing that makes any difference, and marks the value that we leave behind in the world once we're gone, is the acts that we performed while we were alive.
Did we help people, and make them feel good and improve their lives? Did we transmit a sense of being comfortable and welcomed in our company?
Or on the contrary did we hurt them, and leave behind us a trail of misery and victims who all rejoice at our demise?
Will people remember you for your sense of humour, your optimism and encouragement and how you made them feel better when they were down in the dumps?
Or, on the contrary, will people feel relief that they will no longer have to put up with your sour countenance and character which put a damper on even the merriest celebrations?
How much did we love while we walked on the face of the earth?
And how much did we hate, and inspire hatred in others?
Living Each Moment As If It Were the Last
As they say, the way to live the fullest existence, the way to celebrate filling your cup of life to the brim, is by living each day, each moment, as if it were the last.
Don't wait until your kids turn 20 (or 40, if they've already turned 20!) to hug them and tell them how much you love them. Do it now. Today. You don't know what will happen tomorrow.
Don't wait until you get that big promotion at work before you call up your best friend to share the great news with them. Call them up now, have a chat. You don't know if the 2 of you will still be here tomorrow.
And don't wait till your retirement to start fulfilling your dreams. Live your dreams today. How do you know you will still be alive in 2014?
"Aw, come on, I don't have the time!" you might object.
Well, if you don't have the time now, then when? When you're dead?
Live Your Dreams in This Lifetime
Now, that doesn't mean that you have to go out and quit your job today. But think that every dream that ever got fulfilled began with one little step. Whatever it is that you want to do, at the very least you can go out and do one little thing today that will bring you a little bit closer to your dream.
If your dream is to own your own business, then start thinking, TODAY, about what kind of business you want. Do you want to open a shop? Run a consulting firm? Work free-lance as a journalist? Then start planning for it now. Today.
Planning doesn't scoop up an inordinate amount out of your busy schedule. You can make plans as you cook dinner, wash the dishes or ride on the commuter train. Or even as you stuff in an insipid lunch at the company cafeteria.
And once you've planned a bit, then take one little action. If you want to own a store, maybe you can take a walk and look at other stores for inspiration, see what it is that you like that other shop-owners do, and observe their mistakes as well. Does that show-window over there look garish? Why?
Death is Your Best Friend
In reality, death can become your single best friend.
When you live your life as if the Grim Reaper were breathing right down over your shoulder every day, every single minute of every day, caressing you softly with his closeness, you will no longer waste it on trivialities and banalities or getting mad at people for things of no importance.
What if you were to keel over in the next minute victim of massive coronary failure? Do you want the last thing your loved ones remember of you, to be that humungous argument that you carried out with them this morning?
Do you want your daughter to remember that last night you sent her to bed without any dinner, and then you didn't go in to tuck her in and give her a kiss?
I understand that you have to go to work, you have to earn a living. Of course, we all do.
But that is no excuse to justify barking irascibly at everyone that you meet at the office, screaming at your employees and sneering at the bellboy in your lobby. All right, so you have to work. But there are so many ways to do the same job.
You can carry out your tasks grumbling and grouching, or you can do it with a smile. Okay, so it won't make your job any less onerous, but it will definitely make life more pleasant for the people around you, and create great memories for them.
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