“We’re afraid oto lose what we love most, and we hate that there are no guarantees. We think not being grateful and not feeling joy will make it hurtless. We think if we can beat vulnerability to the punch by imagining loss, we’ll suffer less. We’re wrong. There is no guarantee. If we’re not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we’re missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.” – Brené Brown
We know it. We all know it.
Some get to know about it earlier than others. Because it is their companion from an early age onwards; because it knocked on their doors when they were way too little to understand what it was and meant. But with growing years it grows upon us too. The daunting insight: from the day we are born we are living towards death.
There is no life without death. Part of being alive means to be here for a limited amount of time. Life is not endless. It is finite. At least, in our very own bodies we call home in this lifetime. And even though it is a natural part – maybe even a prerequisite – for the living condition, it is also part of the human condition not being able to accept death.
Even if understood on a biological, philosophical or a spiritual level – when it comes creeping around the corner in our very own neighborhood, it hits hard. When it comes into our life in a human shape that makes tangible the incomprehensible – dying – we are at loss.
At loss for words. But even before that we are at loss for feelings. Anger, frustration, sadness, denial, heart-brokenness, pain, an overwhelming sense of injustice. And the overall question of WHY? Why her? Why him? Why now? Why does it has to happen to me, to us? Why is life so unfair? Why, why, why?
In this moment, in this process it is so hard to see the truth that doesn’t bring comfort, but hurts and still, acts as the overall principle – if we like it or not: death is not the opposite of life. Death is an inherent part of life. Without death there is no life. Because life – our life in our own bodies in this lifetime – is finite.
I am not talking about the saying that what makes life precious and valuable is its finitude, even though it is true. I am talking about the concept of life which incorporates death as an essential element. It is not the spectrum life – death, if at all, death’s opposite would be birth. And being alive, as in breathing, would be met by being dead, not breathing.
Maybe life has no opposite; maybe it is a continuum.
However, even though death and dying are part of life and being alive we are so afraid of it. Most of the time we suppress this inevitable part. Also because we are pretty preoccupied with our daily fears and obstacles. And also death seems to be in the far future – or at least in the future, which make our daily challenges a priority to deal with.
We all know it.
And still, when the perceived infinity of moments still to come get cut down to a finite number of breaths we are lost.
When we are given a time frame, knowing it is only a matter of time; when we are consciously living towards death, we are lost.
I am lost. For words, for thoughts, for feelings.
Even though – like everyone else – I know that we all are dying; that it is part of life. I am lost. Even though we could all die in an instant, any minute, any day by uncontrollable circumstances. But when we are given the chance to consciously experience the finitude of some else, we are lost.
I guess this is one of the biggest paradox and probably greatest gift of life:
To reach for the highest mountains, dive into the deepest secrets, loving with our whole hearts, and smile – while facing our finite experiences in this lifetime throughout it all.