Life is a series of deaths and rebirths. Death happens to our bodies every minute of every day yet; this process goes unnoticed because we are busy living life. Cells die. Skin dies. But the thought of the ultimate death stops us dead in our tracks. When the day arrives when we leave behind, what the Buddhist religion refers to as our “skin bags,” we release ourselves from the physical and go on to the next phase of our soul’s journey.
Somewhere in the 19th century the idea that death was something to be feared, that it was something wicked, and something to be looked upon as the absolute end of “who we are,” gained popularity. We are not sure why because before that time, the idea and concept of death was a time of rest, a time we all worked hard to achieve and a time of renewal.
Death is a huge and complicated subject. Death is unavoidable yet it is a subject that we, as a culture, choose to avoid. Death begins the moment they cut the umbilical cord. Each day we live we are one day closer to the day we die. I don’t say this to ruin your day; it is just the simple truth. None among us knows the date on the other side of the dash. This is why it is so important to live every day like it might be our last: to pay attention and to appreciate the ever-changing, precious moments of our lives.
The more we embrace death the greater the quality of our lives. Elizabeth Kubler Ross called death a “highly creative force.” Facing death means we are able to face the ultimate question of the meaning of life. In order to live we have to have the courage to walk through life realizing that our lives are nothing but a blip on the screen of time. When I was given 3 months to live as a result of stage IV throat and neck cancer, there was time at the beginning of my journey when I was actually relieved at the idea that I could just slip away. I have never feared death. Actually, I have always been intrigued by it. When conversing with a prior therapist of mine about my not being sure of what my choice was going to be. That I might just let myself slip away instead of going through what they told me was going to be a hellish and rigorous treatment, she said, “Sorry, you aren’t getting off that easy. There is more for you to do.” She was absolutely spot on.
I am forever grateful for my surviving because there was more for me to do. Much more. There is more for each of us to do, yet we waste a lot of time on things that don’t matter. When we get to face our own death, we begin to live very differently.
Shakespeare said, “Everyone owes God one good death.” Death does not discriminate. It does not discriminate between blacks and whites, rich and poor, women nor men, the youth or the elderly. So why not live fully expressed, wrapped in the beauty, the mystery and the power of death and let it fuel us with the thrill of living like we are dying each and every moment.
Think about it…if today were your last, what would you be doing? Better still, who would you be being? Who would you be with? Who would you be telling what to? Who would you be forgiving? And more importantly, what is left for you to do?
Because there is one thing for sure, you don’t want to die with your music still in you.