Remember how long you’ve been putting this off, how many extensions the gods gave you, and you didn’t use them. At some point you have to recognize what world it is that you belong to; what power rules it and from what source you spring; that there is a limit to the time assigned to you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never returnMarcus Aurelius, Meditations 2.4
Life is fragile. It always has been. And the current state of the world has put a spotlight on that truth. It’s a daily reminder of our own mortality.
But mortality doesn’t have to be scary or something we shy away from acknowledging.
In fact, it can be the greatest driver you have for a meaningful life.
Most of us think of death as something far off in our future and therefore discount its likelihood. But none of us know when death will come for us.
I’ve often wondered if I’d live my life differently if I had to face an event that drastically exposed my own fragility.
Would I live life fuller if I was diagnosed with cancer but overcame it?
Or if I were stranded in the middle of the ocean, near death but ultimately survived?
Would it really take such an extreme event to make me live life to the fullest?
Thankfully, not! But it does require us to face the reality of death. To sit with it and intentionally think about how we could very much greet it sooner than expected.
How much more would you be inclined to slow down and savor the little moments that pass us by each day if you thought the end was near?
Where would you focus your time and energy?
Would you let daily annoyances take hold of your attention?
There’s a technique, dating back thousands of years, known as Negative Visualization that can help us face our worst-case scenario from the comfort of our brain.
The idea is to think about a negative outcome that could occur in your life and think through the implications.
Imagine being in a moment where a doctor tells you that you have a terminal illness or that a close loved one has passed?
It’s not an easy thing to think about. That’s the point.
But, as you hold yourself in that moment and let yourself feel those emotions and grapple with how it would impact your life thereafter, you can also imagine yourself wishing you could go back to a moment in time before that outcome.
You would yearn for those little moments in life you let slip by or wish you could have a mulligan on certain events.
That’s the beauty of this technique, because it gives you the chance to think deeply on the fragility, and ultimately the beauty of life.
Certainly, the current state of the world is a worst-case scenario for many.
It’s also an opportunity to acknowledge the very real truth that our time is limited on this earth.
It’s a chance to reset and focus on things that matter – family, friends, self-care, love, social connection, doing inspiring work, living purposefully, being mindful and serving others.
Your time is limited and the grave awaits us all.
What you do between now and then is entirely in your hands.