Recognition of mortality may appear in several ways. One may openly acknowledge and contemplate it. Another may deny, dismiss, or ignore its presence. An overarching phenomenon occurrent in the previous two scenarios is the presence of either peace or fear. We all die; this is a irrefutable fact known to all humans. Unique to each individual is how we die and how each of us wishes to view death and the surrounding issues of mortality. Peace may be found in spirituality or the simple reconciliation of knowing life ends and the potential belief in the presence or absence of an existence after death. Fear results both in the presence of certitude and unknowingness. Though a spiritual teaching may promise life eternal after death, how do we know in sureness what form or presence in which we will exist? Or rather, if we are entirely unknowing or unsure if there is anything following death, is fear not a rational emotional response?
We pass through our everyday lives in the throes of the myriad of challenges and rewards life affords those privileged to partake. Many times we drive our proverbial cars on a smooth road, though it be afflicted with numerous turns, diversions, and switchbacks. Death and mortality are not in the forefronts of our minds until we hit that depression in the pavement, that pothole, or that speed bump that manifests as the telling of a suicide or murder in a local newspaper; the child who died from a several-years-long battle with leukemia; your grandmother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease; a personal diagnosis or condition that calls you to face your own mortality. Then mortality appears in the mind as if projected on a movie screen and one is a passive audience member, unable to control the mechanisms of the theater projecting the film. It is accosting, loud, all-encompassing, impossible to ignore or deny in existence. The movie plays for some time, but like all movies, it ends, and you exit the theater. Exiting does not occur in identical ways for each individual. Some exit in fear. Some exit in understanding and growth. Some exit in peace, and some exit in a state of reconciliation.
How we exit is of importance and a determiner of how we approach both future dances with reminders of mortality and our own inevitable death. Should we continually exit in fear, how poor the quality of life must become. Life becomes synonymous with fear, and implemented is a continual clock counting down the hours, minutes, seconds, to the ultimate demise. Should we approach mortality with some form of acceptance and peace, the very fabric of life changes. Burlap becomes satin and silk. We are not tripping on cords of hemp, but rather allowing threads to combine and weave in a way pleasant and effortless. Let us drop the rope, relinquish our battle with mortality, for how much greater purpose can be added to life if we live outside the lines of combat and fear, and instead contemplate the gifts inherent in our given existence.