On Shortness of Life
Our lives are finite, and they can pass by in an instant.
We are all going to die. Our lives are fragile. Yet when we hear about our favorite celebrity passing away at a young age, it’s shocking. How can this be? We try to find reasons to justify the anomaly. There was a lot of stress; the fitness routine led to overtraining, the diet had severe problems.
We try to spin it as much as possible, but the last thing we want to admit is our fear that there are no guarantees in life. You might be doing everything right, not smoking, not drinking, working out every day, and even eating healthy, but that’s not enough. It makes it likely that you will live longer, but tragedy might still occur.
The Greeks knew a lot about tragedy; they knew that it could occur the even noblest of folks despite the right intentions despite no fault of their own. Our society in driving towards meritocracy has conditioned us to believe that all our shortcomings are our fault. That can be liberating for the masses but an excruciating burden to bear for the tragic individual.
So how do we come to terms with death?
The first step in coming to terms with mortality is not your own but the people around you. We fool ourselves into believing we have all the time in the world. We delay making the call, connecting with them, going on a trip, or just having that cup of coffee. We pretend that they will always be around. But when the news of one of them passing away comes, it’s a reminder that our time is limited.
The moment we accept this fact, it frees us. Mind you. It’s not easy; Buddhist monks spend a lifetime grappling with the concept of “Impermanence.”
A way to do it is to remind us of things we have lost, like the experience we had lost through time. e.g., connecting with a stranger on a trip, eating “Maggie” late-night during exam sessions, etc.
Remembering such moments and reminding us that they do end allows us to be more present in our current existence. The absolute joy comes because they end, which makes your time spent even more precious. You can thank your friend, family, or even yourself for allowing you to feel those moments that made you feel alive.
Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting.
The world becomes beautiful when we accept for what it is.
Live in the Moment:
Once we know that life is fleeting, we can focus on living in the moment and live better. The goal of enhancing the quality of our present lives becomes an important one, and it starts with our body and mind.
Meditation is one of the only practices shown to help us come to terms with our thoughts and emotions. It allows us not to be slaves of our mind and experience the reality for what it is instead of what it should be. Start small; even 5 mins a day can do wonders with consistency.
Exercise: The effects of exercise are magical for our body and mind. It’s one of the best stress-busters, aging reversal, mood improver and helps you think better. Again, no need to start big; doing small activities, brisk walking, and some form of resistance training can benefit you. There is no other activity that improves each day.
Nutrition: Nutrition has a significant impact on us. As said before, we are what we eat. Eating processed food has several detrimental effects; heart disease, metabolic problems, obesity, and depression. If you consume processed food, cutting it down will help you live in the moment better.
These are some of the ways you can start focusing on the present more and more.
Once you are mindful and fit, you will start enjoying what you have instead of longing for what you don’t have.
No one knows what the future holds instead of sleepwalking through life and being jolted by external events. Accepting the shortness of life and making the best of what we have can help us live a more meaningful life.