Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life. William Faulkner
We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it. Pascal
One of the perks of knowing you are going to die is that you are forced to make decisions as to what you will do with your allotted time. I mean, if we were all Highlander-like and lived forever, what urgency is there in deciding which career path to take, what to do with our time and money, or whom to cherish until death-do-you-part? But Death is coming, so now what?
What will you value?
Who is important to you?
By what code will you live?
What is it that is worth doing, in the face of death?
What is it you would do, even if it meant risking death?
How will you prepare for death?
And if you believe in God, and that you will meet Him when you die, how does this shape and inform your answers to the above questions?
Those individuals who Get Death, who accept its inevitability, who know that death is coming for them, rarely procrastinate: if anything, they are almost impetuous in their decision making, as they live by the words of Christ, Work while it is day for when the night comes … no more time to work: no more time to work on self, on your relationships, or on your legacy.
The challenge when you are young is to overcome the arrogance of thinking (or at least behaving As If) “I am immortal.” Plenty of time to Become and to Do, right? Feels that way at 17 … not so much when you wake up at 50 and realize you have yet to either truly Become the individual you were meant to be or Do what you were created to. “How did this happen to me? How did I get here?” ” Simple. “Immortals” procrastinate.
I say that those individuals who Get Death behave accordingly … but that’s not really true. Some people grasp it intellectually but refuse to wrestle with it existentially. Some people think, “What the heck: there is no afterlife so eat drink and be merry!” Others see death and are crippled by despair. But all this changes when Death knocks on your door.
Have you ever known someone who knew that they only had so much more time to live? Think back on their behaviors, their choices, and their attitudes. With death just around the corner, what is of great significance becomes all-important, and what is not important is ignored. Expressions of love, making amends, setting things in order for those who will remain here, and finishing certain projects, these and other Important Things are embraced with heroic courage. Everything else is inconsequential.
Why is it that we wait until our impending death to live and love this way? And how many of us will know with certainty that death is only a year or a week away? We don’t. As far as we know, it is only a week away.
So. Now what?
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011