“You can’t decide how you’re going to die. Or when. What you can decide is how you’re going to live now.” – Joan Baez
Because I’m weird like that, lately I’ve been thinking about the saying: “You could die tomorrow.” Hey, it’s a popular phrase.
But how come no one ever says: “You could die today?”
How come no one ever calls attention to the fragility of life as we know it right now, to this precious moment that could slip away in an instant?
Maybe it’s because it still feels safe enough to talk about tomorrow as the day that may never come. Tomorrow seems so far away, so distant from the present reality of being alive.
Tomorrow means you still have time to BS your way through life today.
When I was in Barcelona, I splurged on a one-day hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the city. As we were passing yet another one of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi’s creations, the audio guide informed me of an interesting fact.
Gaudi died by getting hit by a tram.
Famous, brilliant architect Gaudi did not die of old age or disease or even homicide. He simply went out for a walk and got hit by a tram.
He probably didn’t think he would die that day, while he was outside just getting his exercise. Just like I don’t think I’ll die anytime before my conference call this afternoon. But the truth is that I could.
And for the last few years, that realization is part of what helps me make decisions with a certain sense of urgency.
Should I quit my job? Yes! After all, I could die today, not knowing my full potential or impact of using my gifts to serve others in a bigger way.
Should I stop eating meat? Yes! After all, I could die today without ever knowing the feeling of having a healthier body, more energy and less sickness.
Should I get into a new relationship? Yes! After all, I could die today, never having experienced the possibility of having a life partner.
While I don’t live my life free from the feeling of fear, I am often able to summon the courage to live my ideal life from the knowledge that I could die today.
Just like Gaudi getting hit randomly by a tram.
This year (if I don’t die), I will turn 30 years old. And at this point in my life, I’m not afraid of death.
What I am afraid of is not being as happy as possible while I’m still alive.
Are you afraid of death? Does the thought of your own mortality cause you to make different decisions in your life?