This post originally appeared here on Change Becomes You -- Medium.
When The End Arrives, Let There Be No Excuses And No Regrets
The common reaction on hearing someone passing is usually shocking, mixed with sadness, disbelief, or numbness. Sometimes it could be just plain non-acceptance. This sort of news can turn our lives upside down.
There was a time not too long ago when the only news I received was about weddings, the birth of a child, proud first-time home buyers, moving up the corporate ladder. That was because I was in that age group. But as time catches up, I’m getting more and more news about people I know who exit.
There are inevitable things in life, and death is one of them. That means it will happen anytime at some point, whether or not we like it. When the time comes, all of us have to move on. The fear of dying is not irrational, but how can we be more at peace when death knocks on the door, for us or for those we love? It sounds almost absurd to ask.
I ask this question and wonder how I will cope with the issue. I don’t want to get caught in this impossibly dark and winding center. Not that I will, but I just don’t know.
Often we are ill-prepared for the ebb of life. We live as if every day is going to be the same. We get up in the morning, go through our day just like we did yesterday, and expect it’ll be exactly the same tomorrow. But life is unpredictable. Even some days the sun refuses to shine.
How we choose to see our world is exactly how we experience it.
Should we allow the moment surrounding an event to narrate our story, to dictate how we should feel or how our day should turn out? Can we flex our free will amid intense emotions?
Why is it that while someone is facing death, someplace else, another person is celebrating? Life continues to happen regardless of our experience. What changes is our perception of what’s happening. How we choose to see our world is exactly how we experience it.
What does life mean to you? Is it a never-ending pursuit of trying to get something, to gain status, a title, or an image that makes you, you? If that’s the case, you’ll always feel pressured for time and it becomes difficult to accept the inevitability of death.
If your view of life is about being happy, fulfilled, and anything else is the side effect of you getting to your destination, then death should be a similar concept. We’re allocated the time to accomplish all we can at our utmost. When it’s time to relinquish, we should not feel entitled to more because we have completely utilized our privileges.
You can’t change the cast or the setting within the narrative, but you can determine how the movie unfolds moment by moment.
It’s almost like we’re living life on loan. As long as it’s ours, we’re free to do with it as we please, but once the moment is up, no amount of begging would grant an additional day, an hour, or a second of what’s required of us. When the time is up, we surrender and exit.
The same goes for the people we love. Can we detach ourselves and live with this awareness in mind that every moment is precious, and it’s limited. Armed with this understanding, do we still want to argue, fight, dispute, debate, and worry over insignificant things, issues, and people that are only going to be with us momentarily?
Would we use whatever little time we have to be selfish, to insist on what we believe is right and for that sake, jeopardize our relationship with others? We want to win all wars, have the last word at every conversation, compete until we’re deflated, and come home dissatisfied.
You see, the world dictates nothing. It’s only a collection of frames joined to tell a tale. Every frame of the film is a moment in our lives. How the story unfolds represents reality. But it doesn’t end there. The movie may unfold a certain way, but the ending is entirely up to us.
You can’t change the cast or the setting within the narrative, but you can determine how the movie unfolds moment by moment. You get to define the reality presented to you.
What if death is not an end, but a beginning? What if it’s a transition into a different realm? Or that what we thought of as the end is a sequel, because we have completed a level and now it’s time to move on to the next? If it’s so, would we be sad if we are on our way out or for those we love who have gone off?
We’re given the power to create, therefore to pursue. Shouldn’t that open our minds to realize how fleeting the moments afforded to us? And wouldn’t we be mindful to treasure and to appreciate what may not be ours tomorrow? Despite a predetermined date of exit on our records, it’s still not made obvious to us. So we continue to live on without that knowledge — we can’t plan, we can’t plot, and we can’t strategize effectively. We just make the best of what we have as we go along.
Shouldn’t we then stop all our silly disagreements about who’s right or wrong and instead be compassionate and understand that variability exists and that it’s the spice of life, therefore we should let people be who they are and love them, regardless?
No one’s opinion is more important than another and no one knows more than another, we’re simply at different stages of our journey. That’s what makes the movie interesting because we all have a role to play. It would be utterly boring if every character in that movie talked and behaved identically. Why do we insist others should change or they become our enemy?
Can’t we view every disagreement as an opportunity to challenge our viewpoint, that perhaps we can open our minds towards growth? Or allow our strength to make up another’s weakness simply because we are fortunate enough to be at that level and they are not, and allow them to come up at their own timing. Or who knows, perhaps we are the ones who need to expand? Can we give ourselves the benefit of doubt? How can we be sure?
Let’s be grateful for another day to catch up on what we’ve missed, to be better than who we were yesterday, not comparing ourselves with others, but to come up higher and believe that we can.
Even if things don’t turn out as expected, and there are always reasons for life to screw up because we’re imperfect beings living in an imperfect world, we can still find ways to appreciate those who are here on the same journey as we are.
We can’t change what has happened, but we can always decide to make it work for us because nothing simply is. Everything is a choice — the subtle realizations, the changes, the insignificant gestures, the spontaneous kindness, the unexpected words that could lighten up someone’s day, all done in the moment of awareness so that we can live and not just exist. Let’s live and love fully today, because tomorrow may never be.
If tomorrow doesn’t arrive, and the time is up, either for us or for those we love, could we truly say that we have lived fully? And without a hinge of regret, we hand over the keys, bid our last goodbye, and exit with a smile.