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As I finished my work and came home today, I was greeted by my girlfriend in an unhappy state – her grandfather is very ill and is unable to talk to her. In fact, he is not even expected to live until the break of dawn!
Immediately, I could feel a sense of anxiety and fear building inside of me. It’s a very strange experience – I seem to be highly empathic when it comes to my girlfriend’s feelings.
Feeling her dread, I gave her a hug (virtually, since she’s on a different coast) and offered her my shoulder whenever she needed it. It’s a traumatic experience, especially considering how close she is to her grandparents.
As the night wore on, I could sense this feeling weighing on me, even though my girlfriend has already gone to sleep. Finally, I took a shower and laid in bed, unable to fall asleep. I simply couldn’t ignore the feeling. It felt like my own grandfather was dying, and it made me wonder how I would handle it!
As I thought about it more and more, it struck me that death is an imminent part of life – a part that every single person has to face eventually. It will happen to all of us! Of course, we all “know” that. However, it’s only at times like these that we can fully appreciate this fact. It gives us a taste of what is to come. The older we grow, the more often this will happen, with family, with friends, with enemies.
Realizing this, I suddenly felt very motivated. No matter who the other person is, he/she will die soon. Why not take this chance to reach out and see what will happen? It also reminded me that I will die in time as well. Those goals that I wrote down for myself suddenly have much more meaning!
In the face of this feeling, I am reminded that life is short. The $300 that some guy owes you or the guy that beat you up in 5th grade becomes completely trivial. What difference does it make if both of you are going to die soon anyway? With this reminder, what is important and what is unimportant suddenly becomes that much clearer.
Perhaps, that is the purpose of why nature does things this way. Each time someone that is close to us dies, we get a glimpse of ourselves on our deathbed. We get a big jolt of the meaning of life and a reminder that our time here is limited. It makes us forget all the trivialities of day to day life and focus on our main purpose. It makes us appreciate the things we have and the wonderful adventure that is life.
This Star Trek episode says it best: The Inner Light. I believe it to the best one out of the entire 30 year series.
What will you do if you didn’t have that much longer to live?
Because in the grand scheme of things… you really don’t have that long to live!
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