Death is our constant companion on a journey of meaning. We can either be terrified by the thought, or recognize the presence of an ally in helping us understand the difference between what is deeply meaningful and important and what is, ultimately, of little consequence.
Our culture prefers not to look Death in the eye. As individuals, we would rather forget that it remains our constant companion. It seems easier and more comfortable just to concentrate on Life. To do that is to deny that our journey of meaning is time-bound, and that every moment we have is a blessing.
The impermanence of existence teaches us to respect it. It reminds us not to take for granted what we love. The great gift of life is the opportunity to create meaning with every step of our journey.
The Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus warns us not to be lulled into a false belief that we can put off living until tomorrow. He suggests: "What do you wish to be doing when it (Death) overtakes you? If you have anything better to be doing...get to work on that."
Mortality requires that we turn to the heart to initiate two great transformational journeys–the journey of life and the final journey of death which carries each of us into a mystery.
The journey of life can be illuminated through Death's counsel, which reminds us to act on what matters most and to take action with commitment and purpose.
The Roman philosopher, Horace urges us to "Believe every day that has dawned is your last." Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor, supports Horace's advice: "And you will give yourself peace if you perform each act as if it were your last."
By performing each act as though it were the last, the Visionmaker does everything with focus, economy, and excellence. That is the secret of the ability to act with purpose.
Imagine being told we had just months to live. We would waste no time on trivialities, diversions and distraction. We would be deeply committed to doing only what matters most.
Living as though every act is our last act creates the kind of clarity, urgency and commitment that shatters the status quo, returns us to the heart, and generates a breakthrough.
As always, your insights and comments are most welcome. Thank you for visiting Visions.
© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.