Most of us have those childhood experiences of a beloved pet dying (or in my instance discovering that your dog has love-licked your sister’s gerbil to death), we try to nurture that seed in a plastic cup only to see it shrivel from our exuberant watering. The example can be closer, say an elderly grandparent passes away, or a difficult diagnosis threatens our sense of health and well-being.
At what point of human development do we become aware of our own mortality? And does that awareness serve us or subjugate us?
…most of us attempt to escape from death concerns by avoiding life. This defensive denial of death has profoundly negative consequences for each person’s life.
Most people spend their lifetime without a great deal of self-awareness, living lives of emptiness and drudgery based on their early programming. They rarely reflect on their circumstances but rather are addicted to a lifestyle of form and routine. Few develop a life plan or project that gives value, substance or meaning to their daily lives. Humans are a meaning-seeking species, and when this experience is limited or excluded, they are deprived of their human heritage. – Robert Firestone, Ph.D.(Click here for source article.)
Thank you, Mr. Firestone, Ph.D., for being a beam of happy warm sunshine sent to brighten our day. Oy.
However gloomy, Mr. Firestone’s got a point. There are those folks who want to avoid thinking about death so badly that they disengage from true living.
That’s not to say a fixation on our ultimate end is a healthy strategy either, but an awareness of death as a part of the natural flow of life is a sure way to squeeze more living out of each experience we have the privilege of, well, experiencing.
And here we are, on the day when we remember that we’re all just a fleeting moment, that we are made from dust and to dust we shall return.
Andplusalsotoo, it’s Valentine’s Day, grand holiday of paper doilies, candy hearts, and expressing appreciation for special people in our lives. Or as The Princess Bride would suggest, Whatcha got that’s worth livin’ for
Isn’t that timing of Ash Wednesday and Valentines Day this year just a perfect analogy for the tension between an awareness of our own finite nature AND the full living — friendships and romantic relationships — we all wish to do?
Maybe there’s more here to deal with but for now I just wonder if you’d be willing to reflect on your own attitudes towards mortality, and also on love. Then, if you’re so inclined, report back on your discoveries. We’d love to hear from you.