Death Meditation VII
You’ve been in a car accident.
You wake confused.
Your vision is blurred and skewed.
Pain pulses through every inch of your body.
It’s hard to breath and each time you draw in air, you feel crackling and something is off.
Reaching up, you feel your head. The flesh of your face and forehead are shredded and you see shards of glass all around as your vision improves. Everything is crushed, including the roof and door, molding down around your side.
Feeling your head more, you feel your skull spongily moving as it was cracked on the steering wheel. Your arm by the door is crushed into a pulp, shattered in multiple places.
Glancing to the seat beside you, you see your spouse and then your child in the back. Both are grey skinned and horrendously maimed from the glass and impact.
The EMTs are shouting to one another outside. They’re saying something, but you can’t figure it out except they can’t determine how to get you out.
“I’m too young!” you think to yourself. You and your spouse and little one were only just beginning your lives together as a family. You had just gotten your first home. A big promotion.
Things were getting so good…
As the sights and sounds begin to combine, swirling the drain of consciousness, all you can think of is I’m too young to die! This can’t be happening to me…I’m too young…Our child was so little…what about…Why did…I’m…
Death is unmerciful to us.
It always walks beside us and observes our every breath.
We may be able to eat well and be fit.
We can avoid abusing drugs and alcohol.
We can strive for good rest and mental wellbeing.
But, ultimately, even though we work so hard to mitigate this inevitable end, sometimes Death has other plans.
This is why we must meditate deeply upon it each day.
As we have discussed myriad times, it may come for your wife, husband, mother, father, friends, siblings…or even our children.
While no amount of death meditation will truly prepare us for their and our departures from this world, spending time to think on the idea of death can help better prepare us for it.
It is why our elders are so stoic through it.
When they were children — 60, 70, 80 or more years ago — they saw death far more than we do today. They weren’t sheltered from it like us.
If they wanted chicken for dinner, they went out and got one of their chickens and the axe.
Their siblings and parents may have died far prematurely.
My own great grandfather was one of 19 children — of which only about 10 survived.
As they’ve aged, they’ve watched their parents, siblings and friends slowly disappear into the void of death.
They’ve seen so many they’ve known and laughed with for decades suddenly lay coldly still in coffins and seen the scattering of soil over the woodgrain of the casket in the freezing ground.
They just have seen it and had to think about it enough that it’s grip isn’t as harsh.
We must spend time each day with death in mind, too.
Ultimately, it may be a grotesque wreck that is our end, but being sure to live in the now and shower our lives with daily gratitude will better ensure if we meet an untimely end, it will not feel so bitter.
Be grateful you live in a time when you have access to clean food and water.
Be grateful you live in a time of sanitary childbirth and good infant mortality.
Be grateful you live in a time when you likely have safer cars and roadways.
Life is good, but it isn’t promised.
What, right now, are you most grateful for?
Follow for daily philosophical meditations.
These are distillations from my coming book “YouDaimonia: the Ancient Philosophy of Human Flourishing.”