Easy to Die, Hard to Live
It’s so easy to die that it is dumbfoundedly astonishing that you haven’t yet!
I was working with an impact travel company, called Journey, taking groups of travelers all over the world to do social impact — build houses, schools, parks, etc, — for less fortunate communities. On one trip to Costa Rica, my friend Amy, the companies co-founder, was standing in the lobby talking to a Journey’er. Suddenly she felt a sharp pain through her foot. She described the sensation as if she had stepped on a nail that deeply impaled the edge of her heel, right through the gap in her sandal. ‘What the hell was that?’ she thought in an all-encompassing heap of pain, shock and curiosity.
Another member on our retreat who happened to see the whole thing said, “I think you just got stung by a scorpion”. He was pretty calm about it.
“Very funny” Amy replied to his nonchalant attitude describing a pretty rare occurrence.
“Not joking”, he said again, just as monotone as the previous observation. “I just saw it run out from under your foot and go into those bushes”.
In fact, the boring tone revealed intense truth — Amy did get stung by a scorpion. For those of you who have encountered Scorpions, you may know there are various levels of danger and venom potency when it comes to the make, model and color of creatures. Those of you who are unfamiliar, as Amy and myself were, are probably thinking “holy shit! What do you do? Do you just die?”
Well, the answer is that some people have an allergy to the venom scorpions produce, and yes they do just die. Others can tolerate it with no problem, other than some stinging sensation. Amy started feeling a tingling in her face. Her tongue was vibrating and her lips felt like she had just gotten a novocain shot at the dentist (with no enjoyment of laughing gas either — BORING!). We sat her down, iced her foot, gave her a Benadryl, and monitored the pain.
There were two professional surfers in our group, both amber tan, eyes the color of earth from the Moon’s point of view, and sculpted by Michelangelo himself (and probably favored over the famous David in the penis department). As professional surfers, they assured us this kind of thing would happen to them from time to time as they traveled the world to exotic corners of the world where viperous, villainous animals visited and claimed first. That’s why they always traveled with a homemade balm made of roots, oils and who-knows-what, which would suck the venom out of the skin when applied.
Here is what the surfing Gods told us. A swelling or tingling in her throat would mean let’s get her to a hospital stat. If the tingling did not spread or get worse, we were in good shape. Luckily, as it played out, we were in good shape. The pain, she said, was equivalent to what a gunshot wound would feel like (she reckoned).
In this moment, looking at Amy’s foot that, other than being red from the ice , looked totally normal, I had the epiphany — it is so easy to die. Amy hadn’t done anything! She stood in place talking to a friend, and all it took was an armored spider the size of a mini-golf pencil to punch potential death into her skin. An average Scorpion sting produces less than .5mg of venom. A tiny drop of liquid. A bee sting is far less than that of a chemical called apitoxin and that could also kill you, too. Maybe. There are ten times more deaths per year by scorpion bite than by the wrath of poisonous snakes. Annually, there are approximately 3,300 deaths by Scorpions. The same number of people die daily from car accidents.
The point is that it can happen all too easily — whether by a two ton vehicle or a 30g insect. As simple as falling off a step, or getting stung by an insect, or miscalculating a right turn. I don’t say any of this to scare you or encourage you to plot and plan every movement, motion, or making as you mosey through the world. This is not written to scare the wits out of you and motivate you to lock yourself in your dungeon to protect yourself from the elements. (Who knows what kind of dangers live in your dungeon…). I aim to do just the opposite!
The realization of seeing Amy get stung and contemplate the horrifying dangers involved in innocently talking to a friend was that all of this is finite. Its flowing, moving, changing, growing and happening all the time. Life is taking place as we experience it! So what are we do to with that information?
We accept it! Know it! Love it.
Yes, any second it can all be removed. Our bodies, our loved ones, our attachments, our cars, our clothes, our houses, our phones. Our speech, our touch, our taste, our sounds, our smells. All of it.
So look at the life you are creating and measure the value of every moment. Because maybe you are sitting at the job you hate when the “scorpion” comes and bites you. Or maybe you are in the middle of doing a favor for someone out of guilt. Or maybe you are with somebody you don’t want to be with, because you are afraid of being honest with yourself or with them. What if you are loosing valuable time doing what you love with whom you love because you want to earn just a few more dollars. But remember, please remember, you are alive! You are reading to these words and they are flowing in your portal and resonating with you. If you are healthy, you get to make decisions as to where your body goes at any given moment. So decide to take your body and your mind to the right places, the ones that make your experience of living more delightful.
It is amazing to me how many of us fear death so greatly. I understand the fear because like everybody else, I am uncertain of what happens to us when we die. We are holding on so tightly to life, but are you truly living? How do you spend your days? How do you deal with the stresses of life?
Do not both reject death and reject life. Once you accept one, you’ll have a far easier time loving the other.