I remember the moment vividly. I was walking up a flight of stairs at my old apartment with my friend Grant. He was looking into various medical program options and for some reason our conversation turned to the subject of dying. He asked me what I thought about it and I heard myself say “if I was to die right now, I would be totally okay with it”. It was morbid but it was also fascinating. I thought about my comment and for the first time in my life concluded that I was totally at peace with the inevitable fact of my eventual death. Looking back on this moment now, I realize this random conversation was one of the major milestones of my life.
This moment occurred almost four years ago. It happened before I started pursuing my life list. It was before I dropped out of school and it was before I had any real amount of money. Oddly enough, it happened before I had accomplished any of things that most people would consider to be my biggest successes. My life at that point wasn’t particularly remarkable but in that moment of deep insight, I realized it was something I was proud of.
And that has made all of the difference.
Death is life’s great equalizer. As soon as I realized this and really came to terms with my finite time here, it freed me. It helped me develop my priorities and directly led to the creation of my life list. Death stopped being a topic I nervously avoided and instead became my greatest motivator. “Life is short” became more than just a bumper sticker.
That insight may even have been the secret to my accelerated personal and professional success. I am not smarter or more talented that most of my friends or colleagues but after that moment I had the freedom to take great risks that occasionally led to great rewards.
This knowledge made my failures hurt less and my successes feel greater.
I will die someday. It could be later tonight or it could be a hundred years from now. I can’t be sure of the timeline, but I can be sure of the fact that it will happen.
So that is the funny thing about that moment. It wasn’t until I fully came to terms with my inevitable death that I started to fully embrace my life. That moment of random insight was the most precious gift I have ever received. It helped form me into the person I am today, a person with a life that I love.
Is this post too morbid? Do you want to see more like this? Less like this? Let me know if in the comments below.