Paddling Like Mad
Published in

Paddling Like Mad

Marko Vasiljevic

Feb 8, 2020

3 min read

How having a child can help you turn fear of death into energy for life

Having a child is a profound experience on many levels. From awaking your deep instincts to protect and nurture to giving a new meaning to your own existence by fulfilling your genetic destiny, it’s a powerful and unexpected rollercoaster of emotions. Like any powerful tool, it can be tucked away in the shed or it can be used to create fundamental changes in your life. The choice is yours.

Why does looking at your baby soundly sleeping bring your own mortality into focus? We can very easily imagine our baby in twenty years, and we often do so. We think of what they will look like, what they’ll be interested in, who their friends will be, what sports they’ll enjoy, and the list goes on. Since we’ve gone through the process of growing up, and we’ve seen countless other people around us go through it as well, it’s something that feels profoundly familiar to us. We also now imagine ourselves as a part of that journey because of the incredibly strong bond we feel. That bond is what drags us into the future alongside our child. This newfound ability to allow ourselves to clearly project into the future is the key to this transformation.

By seeing the future self clearly, we face our mortality from a much closer viewpoint. We’re many years in the future and our lives are at a different stage. The fear of death feels a lot more intense once you summon it. Once it starts, the fear spiral is steeper and faster and it can feel overwhelming. The critical part of this process is to fully lean into this intense fear and let it completely overtake you. Go deep. Turn even the darkest stones. Now imagine yourself on a deathbed. What are you deeply sad about? What are your big regrets? Not spending enough time with your loved ones? Not squeezing every moment out of your time with your kids while they were growing up? Not working on things that you care about? Not taking risks while you still could? Now, go back to the present and fix all these regrets, then project yourself back on the deathbed again. How do you feel? Is there anything else that’s making you sad or regretful? Find it, come back to the present and project again. You will know you’re done when you reach a point where sadness and regrets are suddenly replaced with overwhelming joy and a newfound life energy. It’s an incredibly liberating experience and when you feel that sense of a breakthrough, your whole existence comes alive in a completely new way. The sense of empowerment from turning fear into life energy is truly awesome. Like any powerful idea, this one is painfully obvious once you see it.

Once you’ve liberated yourself from this fear, it becomes a dear friend. Every time you feel that intense feeling of what you used to know as the fear of death, you channel it into an intense dose of life energy. That energy is what helps you push forward so you don’t have any regrets and you live your life the way you know will make you and people around you happiest, which reframes that fear further and creates a virtuous cycle. It’s natures way of saying, thank you for caring.

Give yourself the gift of fixing the future before it happens, and your children will love you for it.