This might sound morbid, but I think about death all the time. Not with dread or romanticism, but with purpose. This is all going to end some day, and I’m glad that it will.
Don’t worry. It’s not like I’m suicidal. No need to send me the number of any hotlines. It’s rather that I accept, nay, embrace the arc of life with gusto.
Knowing that I will die is an immense source of both strength and relief. Strength to stick with a set of convictions that seem worthy of my brief role in history. Relief that I won’t be condemned to be pushing them forever.
Life is long if you know how to use it, as Seneca said.
Like 40 hours per week is more than plenty to do great work, 10 years is more than plenty to fully enjoy your 20s. Or 30s. Or any other decade of life.
And by that, I don’t mean squeezing every last drop. The zeal to maximize everything is the same fraudulent thinking that leads us to never have enough. You’ll always think there’s more, and regret not getting it, if that’s how you slice the orange.
Instead, I’ve found it useful, like so many before me — this topic is as old as time — to contemplate direction and intensity frequently. Not just how can I do better, how can I strive harder, but just as well when enough is enough. I’ve found it a lot harder to recognize when to stop rather than when to press on, but ultimately far more instructive and rewarding.
This is against a tremendous pressure to always push harder. Do more. Live more. It takes immense confidence in a life well lived to turn down such a siren song.
Which is where the prospect of death comes so handy. The run is finite. There’ll always be more to have had than time to grab it. So if we can’t get it all anyway, it’s easier to accept a reasonable slice and be content with that.
It also serves as the ultimate perspective on all the nonsense and bullshit we get suckered into on a daily basis. If I die right now, mid-air collision Fight Club style, can I be at peace with how the 37 years preceding this violent end was spent? Such questions cleanse the palate.
Appreciate the seasons, but let them pass. It’s a wonderful life not despite of its end but because of it.