Nothing can quite really wake you up to life like nearly dying. Being consistently inundated with the going-ons of life and trapped in a Maslow’s-Hierarchy-of-Needs circus, we’re sort of trapped in perpetual dream state.(The matrix, if you will.) There’s an eerie cognitive dissonance at play in most of our lives today: we’re aware of the intermittent throbbing signal in our minds that something is awfully not right with the system, yet we’re too far gone into dream state consciousness we’ve attained a certain level of acquiescence with the hand life deals us everyday.
It’s the reason you loathe going to work on your present job everyday, but you go, still. I know, we need the pay, right? It’s the reason far too many undergrads are fed up with their majors in school, because deep down, they really want to chase their dreams and do something else with their lives. But they stay on anyway. They’ve got something to prove, haven’t they? It’s the reason no matter our level of discontent with the way the politicians run the government we(OK, only a rather worryingly large number of us, really) relapse into complacency and never demand to put things right. I know, it’s foolhardiness that makes us think we can be heroes by standing up to a corrupt government, right? Perish the thought.
Thing is, as much as we think we desire(strive to, even) to have more control over our lives, we, subconciously, are relieved we aren’t. Being in control is the toughest responsibility there is. It means you’d have to do an awful lot of thinking, fight and earn what’s coming to you. It means you’d have to wake up and take a shot at your dreams. It means you’d have to own up to your contribution in bad days and good days instead of unwittingly appropriating blame to uncontrollable circumstances. But that is a hard ask. We’d rather let others we’ve, in our minds, placed on some pedestal do our thinking for us. And we care too much about our “reputation” and what people think of and expect of us to bother to answer the inner yearnings gnawing away at our hearts to make the desired changes in our lives. Like a throng of zombies, we latch onto every scent that wafts across our senses, almost never stopping a moment to collect ourselves. If you care too much about unsettling the steady bitter-sweet humdrum voyage you’re on, you’re too far gone. You’re in deep sleep. You need to wake up. You need a near death experience(NDE).
Nearly dying puts things in perspective. It is at the point of death we’re most lucid. We see clearly then all we’ve done, been, could have been, and could have done. How people see you is way too trite to fester in your consciousness then. Only one thing matters when you get to the borders of eternity: You. How you played out your script. Most things that are a big deal to you now(and you’re rather quite content to distract you from living a full life) won’t mean anything then. It is in [the thought of] nearly losing it all our costing/estimation skills glow brightest. Value(s) becomes sacrosanct then.
I’m not positing we all grow suicidal proclivities. That’s silly. You don’t need to stage a confrontation with death(your chances of besting him aren’t near the neighbourhood of good, anyway). Death is around us everyday. Recall any old buddy who isn’t around anymore? A sibling? Relative? Colleague? That guy down the street who’s name you never knew until you heard? A neighbour? Death is around us, an unseeming, unwanted neighbour. But he’s lurking around anyway. You think all those people you miss now would live their lives the same way they did before should they get plugged in again? You think they wouldn’t do all within their power to make their lives count instead of giving in to trifling cravings? I doubt that they wouldn’t.
Death is an inevitable end we all share. And if you’ve had an NDE yourself, remembering usually helps to joggle your jaded perspectives and help you realise what really matters. If you haven’t had an NDE, you don’t need to have one(please oh!). Just think of those who’ve gone and are only alive in your mind and the minds of their other dear ones now. Ask yourself, if you were just about to check out now, would you be leaving with a smile knowing you lived a full life?
I know you’ve heard the cliche, “live everyday like it was your last” but i think there’s a rather disturbing finality about living like that. Rather, i think we should live like we’ve already died and have nothing to lose in making the required calls to make the changes we crave. You want more out of your life? Great, everyone does. So, what’s holding us all back?
*Now hands you the red pill*