It took me over a week to finish typing and post this blog. I guess the nature of the topic took me time to come to terms with, and I probably won’t do it justice in such few words.
It is something we must all face. Someone once said that only death and taxes are guaranteed in life. In times when people cannot see eye to eye, our mortality is a stark reminder of how much we all have in common.
Last Thursday, it seemed to be a theme. That day, I sung for the funeral of a dear friend’s late mother. My friend asked me to sing “Memory” from the Lloyd-Webber musical Cats. I do like the song and I hadn’t sung it in years. It is amazing how the brain retains trivial things such as song lyrics. Somehow, they were buried deep in my mind and I was able to deliver the song from memory (forgive the pun). As my husband and I drove to Victor Harbour, where the funeral was taking place, there was an eerily overcast ambience surrounding us.
The day seemed melancholy. That same morning as we bought our daily coffee, we learned that my husband’s family dog had been diagnosed with terminal lymphoma. It was a proverbial kick in the gut for him, so we were experiencing the effects of mortality two-fold.
It’s a sad time in life but a necessary, and inevitable, one. In light of recent experience, I realise that we rarely consider our mortality unless it’s too late. I understand that it is not a pleasant past time to contemplate one’s inevitable death, but perhaps by such reflection we can gain a deeper appreciation for life. I have tried to be more grateful in life. To me, appreciation comes from noticing the little things: a smile, a kind gesture, a laugh, the downtrodden, and nature. Through these seemingly insignificant things magnanimity is evident. As a species, we have the power to move one another and inspire, yet so often in our capitalist, consumerist, egocentric lifestyles we miss those opportunities. Of course, this is a generalisation but more often I observe it, including within myself.
We are busy.
We have chosen to busy ourselves with materialistic ventures that, more often than not, do not benefit our well-being. I feel most well when I am surrounded by people whom I love, enjoying my favourite activities, and when I feel as though I can be of help to someone. Many times, I feel unwell mentally and physically because of the demands of my work. Humans are not invincible yet we sometimes drive our bodies and minds to near-breaking point for the sake of an arbitrary outcome, which in hindsight seems of little importance in the context of our mortality.
Four months into the year, I recall a book that I read over the summer by Cyril Peupion. You can read about it in my January blogs. Peupion talks about the importance of time and working smarter in order to live better. Time is precious and we don’t know how much of it we are given in life. Yet we live by a ticking clock, pressing deadlines, calendar dates, and forecasts of events we expect that we will be around to experience. How self-assured we are at times. How disillusioned we are about our level of control. In remembering one of my favourite books, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak the following quote stays with me:
“A small fact: You are going to die…does this worry you?”
I have been thinking about this a lot since my accident last month and these thoughts have been magnified given recent events. I wonder if it is death that bothers me or if it is missing this life and everything that comes with it, and is yet to come.
On that note I shall end with a quote by Mitch Albom from The Time Keeper:
“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”