“Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
When it became clear that the Master was going to die the disciples were depressed.
The Master smilingly said, “Don‘t you see that death gives loveliness to life?”
“No. We’d much rather you never died”.
“Whatever is truly alive must die. Look at the flowers: only plastic flowers never die”.
Tony de Mello’s fable underscores the message that a life well lived does not perceive death as absolute. It celebrates its meaningful existence reflected through infinity.
Our time here is but a fleeting moment in eternity. Relative to your life’s journey, you may hold a different perspective of what living fully entails. Those in their final moments will recount a list of regrets or failed opportunities. Many of which stem from working too hard, not spending enough time with loved ones, an emphasis on material possessions and not expressing their true feelings to those who matter.
What are your regrets regarding the road less travelled? Regrets are a call to take action in that part of your life. Do not wait for the right time since that time may never arrive. Why? Because time is bound by your internal state. If your inner state remains the same, you may never take action.
In Mitch Albom’s book Tuesdays with Morrie, the author recounts his time with his dying sociology professor. Morrie states the following on the impermanency of life and the need to take inspired action, “Everyone knows they’re going to die,” he said, “but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently”.
Knowing this, we can take life by the lapel and seize every opportunity while we are alive. I affirm that we need not compose an elaborate bucket list, nor undertake extravagant experiences hoping to discover the essence of life in those encounters. To live while you are alive begins at the smallest level and expands far reaching, like a pebble dropped into a pond so that its ripples are felt by those around you.
It begins at the level of the self by making peace with your inner world. Internal conflicts which perpetuate means going to war with that part of yourself. What you oppose within, you oppose in others. As you make peace with your fears, doubts and anxieties you transform them into higher emotional states.
Freedom and inner peace is gained from this purposeful intention. Do not go to your grave having allowed your emotions to dominate your existence. There is much to be attained by transforming disempowering emotions into the wholeness of your being.
Author and philosopher Julian Baggini writes in his book, Freedom Regained: The Possibility of Free Will, “The springs of our actions do not appear to be our conscious thoughts, desires and intentions but unconscious processes in the brain, ones which often set actions in process before we are even aware of anything.” Viewed from this context, your actions originate from the unconscious will and stem from your beliefs, thoughts and observations spanning your lifetime. Can you truly claim your thoughts are unique to you or are they the product of your conditioning?
“I wish I could stand on a busy corner, hat in hand, and beg people to throw me all their wasted hours.” – Bernard Berenson
Consider your response to the following question. What does it mean to be in tune with your emotions? To know your emotions at the deepest level, not dismiss them as fleeting experiences. What emotions arise when complimented by a stranger? What is the smell of a spring morning? Or the sense of falling in love for the first time? Connect with these emotions by allowing yourself to go into them. Only then can you claim you have fully lived.
Equally, don’t dull or anaesthetise your emotions with drugs, alcohol or toxic foods. Your body is a wondrous chemical facility capable of producing hormones and sensations it perceives from its environment. Nowadays a potion or pill is readily available to dull every mood at the drop of the hat, yet it does nothing to dissuade you from perceiving your way through life.
We must strive to attain self-mastery if we wish to live while we’re alive. Self-mastery at the deepest level is the knowledge of one’s core self beyond the superficial facade of your likes and dislikes. I consider these the paint on the exterior surface of a house, yet it tells me nothing of the foundations of the house. To know yourself entails connecting with your core self which resides at the soul level.
A measure of this wisdom is echoed by your willingness to assume responsibility for your life. Embrace a better version of yourself by connecting with the deeper wisdom within you – the wiser self. Draw on that wisdom to help you navigate the torrents of life. Author and psychotherapist Linda Graham states in her book Bounding Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being, “The wiser self can be seen as an imaginary guide who embodies all the positive qualities – such as wisdom, courage, resilience and patience – that you see yourself growing into.”
This begs the question: what matters to you? Explore your answer to this and sure enough there lies the essence to your existence. I urge you to go deep into it to explore what mystery lays waiting for you. Life does not know what it will become until you step into it with an open mind.
Pursue what makes you come alive – what are your passions, interests, joys? Follow them, fall in love with them. Savour them and let your spirit come alive through them. Find your flow within them. Explore your talents, gifts and genius. It was Dr Wayne Dyer who said, “Don’t die with your music still in you”.
You were born to prevail, to let your light shine. To withhold it due to past suffering or apathy creates a deep void which yearns to be filled. This advice does not take away from your struggles since that is part of the journey contained within this material realm.
“Whatever is truly alive must die…” allows us to acknowledge that a life well lived has not been in vain, yet fertilised the seed for others to know the way.