Living on Borrowed Time

By removing the fear of death, you remove all power it has over your life

Photo by Anton Darius | Sollers

These may seem like a morbid topic, but in actuality it is one of the most freeing concepts we can apply in our lives. Death is unavoidable, it’s what makes us human, what makes us strive for greatness, and what pushes us to get as much enjoyment out of life as possible. Without death, there would be no risk, and where is the fun in that?

Think about some of the groups throughout history that are legendary for their exploits, achieving conquests that much larger and more ‘powerful’ populations would have thought impossible. Most notable are the Spartans and the Viking’s. These groups bred a culture of warriors and death was their handmaiden. They woke every morning unsure if this would be their last day on earth, and they lived like it would be.

Now I certainly don’t condone many of the practices of these warrior cultures, but the effect on their lives cannot be ignored. By embracing death as one would a close friend, they removed the fear of it. This is why the Vikings would often refer to it as the loving embrace that ushered them into Valhalla and the Spartans referred to it as a beautiful death when you fall in battle. They not only accepted it, they sought it out. Not because they did not want to continue living, but because they knew living a life full of fear is no life at all.

This is something we experienced in the Military often. Some may disagree, but I believe that many cases of PTSD are not from the presence of action, but the lack of it. It’s why so many veterans struggle with transitioning back into a normal life, because once you have embraced a relationship with death, it’s hard to imagine a life without it. You form an instant bond with those around you and explaining that feeling cannot be done, it must be experienced.

I determined a long time ago that I was living on borrowed time. It was a very freeing mentality. I realized that almost everything I worried or stressed about really didn’t matter in the slightest. Every day was a miracle that I was still breathing, and concerning myself with something as trivial as whether I should start a business or take a job just seems ridiculous.

Unfortunately it’s been too long since I’ve had those experiences and I find myself getting comfortable and losing that mentality. I don’t have the level of appreciation I used to for living every day as if it were borrowed, but thankfully we don’t have to replicate the experience. We can simply be intentional about viewing every day as if it were a blessing. Imagining, ‘if I had narrowly avoided death yesterday, would I really be stressed about this right now?’ 99.9% of the time it will most likely be a resounding No!

We need three things out of life, to eat, drink, and love, past that everything is just an additional benefit. Death is simply taking back something that you didn’t own in the first place. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, it only matters that you don’t allow death to hold power over how you live your life. Embrace it as if it were a benefactor, and every additional day it gives you is an incredible gift.