Death is inevitable. We will all die some day and it’s nothing we should fear or be afraid to think about.
I read once that a person who has learned how to die has simultaneously learned how to live life to its fullest.
This perplexed me and stayed on my mind for days on end because at first it seemed like such a hard concept to grasp. How does one learn how to die, and once accomplished, how does it teach one to live? I decided to take a look at my own life and see if I had learned how to die yet and if not, how could I? (yes a very odd question to ask oneself).
I first started by realizing three things about life and death.
One. I’ve seen a lot of death in my time from friends in my younger years who unfortunately became products of a heroine epidemic. This trend polluted my hometown of Dallas, TX in the early 2000’s, and during that time period I lost a lot of friends to overdoses and even watched one of my friend’s little brother overdose and die right in front of me.
Two. During all of the funerals I attended and even afterwards, I never cried or wished my friends were still here with me. I always thought it was selfish to wish someone I cared for to still be here with me suffering from his/her addiction or whatever pains they were enduring in life.
And finally, I never feared my own death. I have walked on the wild side my fare share of times and had a few moments where I thought life was over for me and not once did I ever fear my fate. Thankfully I’m still here to this day. With that being said though, I still don’t think I ever truly learned how to die, so next I thought that maybe if I took time to visualize my own death it would help me to learn how to die, or at least give me a better understanding of what the phrase really means.
So there I sat in my room, eyes closed, and meditated on my own death (and hence my own life).
I pictured watching my own funeral service and thought about how old I was at the time of my death, the specific people who attended my funeral, and what was said during my eulogy.
At that moment, things started to click. I imagined myself dying at the then current period of my life, a young 20 something year old aspiring musician funding my dreams with drug money with an arrest record as long as the Brooklyn Bridge. True I was a driven entrepreneur, but I was living a life fueled by material excess with no fulfillment or positive impact being made what so ever.
Tears started to roll down my eyes as I thought about how I could have died… would it be from a drug overdose like my friends? – very possible considering I was doing 3.5 grams of coke a day. Maybe a horrible car accident? – that wasn’t far fetched considering I had been in three horrible ones in a span of two years because I had a knack for drinking and driving.
Then I thought of what people would say about me as they dropped my casket into my grave. The last thing I wanted to be remembered as was some drug using/dealing fool who had a big heart and a lot of potential, but never did anything with his life because of the path he chose to walk.
Then I thought about how I actually wanted to be remembered by the ones I left behind. I’ve always been a giving person and even an inspiration to many. I had become a walking contradiction because of my lifestyle, so I realized I would like people to say things like, “He was such an inspiring person” or, “Even though he had a rough start, he turned things around and lived a life of purpose and impacted a lot of lives for the better”.
Then I thought about how I wanted to die and, though I have never feared death, I much rather would like to die in pursuit of my passion for adventure and travel than die an old washed up addict with no motor skills or even worse in some violent shoot out that left half my face missing. It was then during that massive moment of clarity and reflection of my own death as a result of my current life that I learned how to die and then started learning how to live.
I realized that to learn how to die is to first accept that it’s okay to see death as a glorious thing.
Though tragic, it signifies the closing chapters of the most original story ever told-the story of your life; only you have to decide how that story is told and that’s the major part of learning how to die -identifying how you want to be remembered. Once you’ve learned how to die you become free: free of any constraints, free of any strongholds, free of any bad habits, addictions, or fears. Essentially you become free of death itself and free to live a life of your choosing.
Change doesn’t come easy so naturally it took a while for me to give up the life I once chose to live.
Once I did, however, I was able to leave my life of crime behind for good and make a commitment to live a life worthy of an honorable death. Once the commitment to live a life worth dying for was made, I stayed clean from drugs, swore to never hustle again, left the people who were having a negative effect on my life, and decided to use my talent for writing to make a positive impact in people’s lives in anyway that I could.
Fast forward three years and I’m now a successful business owner. I write poetry for niche perfumers as a way to connect their online audience to the art behind the fragrance. I mentor troubled youth who have walked the path that I’ve walked, and I travel as often as possible and I’m even preparing to move to Europe this time next year with no definite time frame of when I’ll return to the U.S.- maybe I’ll spend a good chunk of my life visiting as many cultures and countries as possible-who knows?
Sure, my life has had its ups and downs just like yours, but I gladly accept any and all challenges because I believe they come to add more flavor to the story of my life as well as assist in my continued education on how to live.
I’ve now become a man of honor, purpose, value, and adventure all because I learned how to die.
Because of that life changing lesson, I now know that when ever the reaper hands me my ticket for the long ride, I’ll accept it with a smile on my face because I know it will be a death worth dying.
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