“You could leave life right now so let that determine what you do and say and think,” Marcus Aurelius. I’ve always been afraid of death. I know it’s ironic considering I battled self harm for over a decade. Maybe it wasn’t my death I feared, but the lack of legacy. Or it was simply the fear of losing those close to me and having to move on without them, not knowing if I could. I wasn’t trained to find inner strength, I was trained to find my weaknesses and hide them rather than develop them. I still struggle to believe that I am capable of handling what life throws my way, but I am getting better at accepting that if they are shown to me, it’s a door meant for me.
When I first read/heard this quote, a pit formed in my stomach. Heavy like lead, I felt its weight as real as if I swallowed a brick. My fear of time and never having enough of it ran front and center. Thinking of how I wasted time and that I haven’t accomplished all I wanted to made me feel weak. Like, what am I waiting for? How has so much time gone by so quickly? If I’m honest, I still don’t like it and it still makes me uncomfortable, but they say that those feelings are messages. So what really bothers me about it? It’s my own inaction. It triggers the knowledge that time IS finite and we don’t know when the clock runs out so it’s time to stop screwing around and do something, anything that will bring me to the next level.
Looking at the quote in that context, it isn’t quite so morbid. It’s a reminder to appreciate the time we are given and to take whole advantage of it. It means that yes, there are sacrifices we have to make in the present in order to get what we want, but if you want that reward, you must go for it. It also goes to the kind of person you want to be. Are you someone who gets things done? Are you someone who expresses compassion and empathy when given the opportunity? Or are you someone who has a hair trigger and expects the world to give you what you want? Do you have a fragile ego and feel threatened by other people simply existing?
We get one go round and we never know when that time is up. We are all waiting in line and when our number is called there is no going back. Yes, it is still terrifying and slightly morbid, but that shouldn’t deter you from going for what you want. It isn’t an excuse to say that it’s all futile because we all die. It’s the impetus to make something worthwhile while you are here. Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way because if they are there, they were meant for you. I mean, you can choose to take either path, accepting life as meaningless or giving it as much meaning as you can. I know this raises the whole half full half empty question, but I truly do think this is where we have to be grateful we have a cup.
Thinking that all of this is going to end is actually comforting to some. If we think about money and attaining material things, it is quite comforting to know none of that matters. When we die, no one is going to check our credit score, so that is pretty damn arbitrary. That is a standard and a stressor we put on ourselves. So learn to treat those things like a game. The truth is we really don’t know for certain what comes after our time here. But that is also comforting because you can live knowing you did your best and that is enough because the reality is that is ALL you can do. You have your shot, take it. Let the knowledge that this all ends some day be a comfort and a motivator rather than a fear or a deterrent from living your best life. Let it encourage you and take that action. That’s probably exactly what you need to do so let go of fear, and do it.