You and your friends are all going to die, and that’s beautiful

Post image for You and your friends are all going to die, and that’s beautiful

And then he started using words like nyingma and shentong and I became more interested in my beer than anything else. Zen is a neato thing to talk about but depending on who’s doing the talking, it can get a bit too stiff for me.

But I perked up when he said the most rewarding thing he’s ever done in all his years is to sit and contemplate his own death.

I was in an expat bar in Chiang Mai on trivia night and an informal lecture had broken out. Half the room was shouting out answers to sports history questions, and the other half was gathered around a once-American philosophy professor, listening to him talk about Zen. I was trying to do both.

We chatted on the balcony later, and I asked him about what he said about death. I drank and nodded as he talked and smoked cigarettes.

“When you’re sitting there long enough that you finally see that unbroken line between here and your grave, that you really are that grave every bit as much as you are sitting here… you’ll never feel as free as that.”

The night was long (three bars long) and full of conversations, but that’s the one that was in my head when I was nodding off that night, and in the shower the next morning.

For the next few weeks I kept having these spells where I’d see something super ordinary — a stranger yawning at a bus stop, or something — and I’d get the sensation that I was looking back on it, as if I was visiting it from a place where that doesn’t happen.

It culminated on a beach in New Zealand a few weeks later. I had another spell, and realized what was happening. I was being repeatedly overcome by the simple fact that I was here. That doesn’t sound like an astonishing revelation, but it was, and that had something to do with being simultaneously aware that I will one day not be here.

Understanding those two insultingly simple facts — that you’re definitely here, and that you will definitely one day not be here — combine to form something beautiful. The professor called it anicca but we can call it impermanence. It’s irrefutable, and we kill ourselves trying to refute it all the time. Things change constantly, and when you insist they don’t, you suffer. When you can learn to go along for the ride, ordinary moments become compelling. 

The professor’s death-contemplation hobby is certainly worthwhile, but it’s just not something many people are going to do. Too formal, too weird, too Buddhist.

But you can experience the beauty of impermanence in a much easier way, every time you’re in the presence of people you’re close to. I’ve written about it before, when this blog was much smaller, but it’s such a reliable way to create that staggering kind of gratitude that I can’t recommend it enough.

When you’re with a group of people who are important in your life, take a step back and look around at what’s happening, and consider that there will be a time when these people are gone.

Life is a solo trip, but you’ll have lots of visitors. I say this a lot and always will. Your life is one long unbroken experience, and you’re the only one who’s there the whole time. Visitors will come in and out of your experience. Most of them are short-term and you won’t notice when they’ve made their last appearance.

In fact, even with the long-term visitors, it’s rare that your last moment with a particular person is one in which you’re aware that it is.

Every relationship you have is a chance overlap that begins one particular day and ends on another. You have little control over when either of those bookends appear. There is nothing worse than having nobody important in your life, yet we easily take for granted that this precious, fleeting overlap is happening right now in the room with you.

There are probably hundreds of acquaintances that you haven’t thought about since the last time they were right in front of your face, and maybe that was years ago. Those bit players are gone in the truest sense, but the people who matter are the people whose absence you can feel when they’re gone. The person who’s no longer beside you when you wake up. The pet whose nails you no longer hear clicking on the hallway floor downstairs.

One of the greatest things you can do for yourself is to learn how to feel that feeling while these people are still here.

Here’s how I put it before:

When you’re with your spouse, significant other, a good friend or a close relative, picture the moment, in all its mundane detail, as if you’re looking back on it from a point in life where that person is no longer around. No need to imagine any upsetting explanations for their absence; the part of your life that includes that special person is just over, and you are happy to have been with them while your lives overlapped.

Observe them as if you’ve been shipped back from the future, to see them once again on an ordinary day, with absolutely no reason to take it for granted.

You just have to recognize those moments in which you’re with another person you know and love, and for most people these happen constantly. Then consciously take a step back, and watch the moment as if it’s a memory.

There’s no feeling like it when something ordinary is happening, and everyone’s being ordinary, and yet in your private mental space you’re seeing it all from way down the road, after these wonderful people are gone. An ordinary moment, adorned with such irreplaceable people, is so rich and perfect that you’d give anything to be right back in the middle of it. And then you realize that you are.

It’s surprisingly easy to just watch the outside world do its thing for a second. You might be alarmed to realize that the world would carry on just as freely without your particular brand of opinions and witty comments. Believe me — and I mean this in the most encouraging way possible — it doesn’t need you at all and you’re lucky to be here.

It doesn’t need your friends either, but it seems to be accommodating the lot of you, for the time being anyway. So see all you can while the door is still open.

***

Photo by Joseph Leonardo 

This and 16 other classic Raptitude articles can be found in This Will Never Happen Again. Now available for your e-reader, mobile device, or PC. See reviews here.

This will never happen again cover



EcoCatLady September 27, 2011 at 11:49 pm

What a beautiful post. I’m sometimes overcome by the fact that I’m in a room. A room with a floor, and walls and a ceiling… I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but suddenly I become aware that I’m actually here. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that this really is the good part.

David September 28, 2011 at 6:38 am

Me too, and most people might think that sounds crazy. But we’re not the only ones. I’ll always remember the last few lines of this Simon and Garfunkel track:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgwuiIryvdM

Mark Reid September 28, 2011 at 2:59 am

You might appreciate a similar sentiment expressed in the Flaming Lips’ song “Do you realize??”. The lyrics include:

“Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die /
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know /
You realize that life goes fast /
It’s hard to make the good things last /
You realize the sun doesn’t go down /
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round ”

You can hear it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zYOKFjpm9s

David September 28, 2011 at 6:39 am

One of my favorite songs.

Ali from Spinner's End September 28, 2011 at 8:54 am

Just listening to this song has the same affect on me that David was describing. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, those lyrics always stop me in my tracks. Such a beautiful song.

Chris October 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm

you know, i’ve not listened to either of these songs in a while. now is a good time to listen to them again i think.

Joy September 28, 2011 at 5:13 am

I love this article! Sometimes we allow the “fear” of dying to close us down, when actually there is great freedom in knowing *this* is the moment we have and then choosing to live mindfully present in absolute appreciation and joy of this moment. We tend to cling when it is in release that we find freedom…Absolutely beautiful and life affirming, thank you, David!

David September 28, 2011 at 6:44 am

Yes, this is it. It’s funny how it’s easy to worry about losing what we have, but all we have is the present and we give it up so that we can worry about not having it.

Nathan P September 28, 2011 at 6:54 am

Absolutely love it. However, I couldn’t find a Google + button. I’d love for you to add one ;)

David September 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I’m so behind the times

Stocky September 28, 2011 at 7:22 am

You should be careful nodding off in the shower

David September 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Oh I am

Hope September 28, 2011 at 7:30 am

If even for a day I don’t pause a moment and look down upon my surroundings and friends, it’s just not a good day. Great article.

LunaJune September 28, 2011 at 7:53 am

It changes everything when you step back… and even when you do see this truth and it changes everything. Sometimes we get caught back up and need reminding… and today was one of those days… thanks David :~)

gustavo September 28, 2011 at 8:13 am

I agree it is beautiful to realize that we are all going to die and also the reason why: it allows you to value the magic of those ordinary moments. But it makes me feel unease.

Not sure why, but I am guessing the reason to feel unease is that we need such a tragic fact to see what is actually around us. What is preventing us from seeing the magic of ordinary? Is just a big distraction always present?

David September 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm

What is preventing us from seeing the magic of ordinary? Is just a big distraction always present?

I think that’s what it amounts to. We’re distracted by thoughts, and most of our thoughts are about future and past moments.

Lindsay | The Daily Awe September 28, 2011 at 8:14 am

David, I think this is one of my favourite posts of yours. So beautifully put. Basically, let’s not take each other for granted. Not take our life for granted (which is so, so short). Let’s enjoy the life we have – it’s incredible that we’re even here.

Tess The Bold Life September 28, 2011 at 8:38 am

David,
First I find humor in the fact this dude is smoking cigarettes while he’s contemplating death. LOL

Next I love this and all you say here. I’ve done this many times. I’ve also had the pleasure of being at my mom’s deathbed for her last 36 hours. It was the only time I’ve experienced that. Next month is her birthday month and in December it will be one year that she passed.

I think this exercise is one of the most important we can do.

Now back to that guy smoking…

David September 28, 2011 at 9:40 pm

He was a neat guy.

Carolene September 28, 2011 at 8:44 am

I use to do this very thing all the time in jr. high and high school when my Grandparents were still living. I would study the way they brush their hair, their clothes, their hands and smiles. Most of all their voice and their touch, I have many photos of them, but it is their voice I miss most of all.

I have a pain so deep just by not being able to hear my Grandparents voice asking me to pass the peas at the diner table. This pain is with me always, although I am hopeing someday to see them again.

Joy Langtry September 28, 2011 at 9:01 am

Nice.
This post brought tears. Thank you.
I remember Paula Deen telling Oprah (amazing where we can find catalysts for change!) that her life opened up when she accepted the deaths of her children – not that her children had already died, but just that someday they would.
Contemplating that had a profound impact on my relationship with day-to-day fear and this post of yours is a lovely extension of that concept.

David September 28, 2011 at 9:41 pm

…that her life opened up when she accepted the deaths of her children – not that her children had already died, but just that someday they would.

That’s it, right there. The glass is already broken :)

Eric Pinola September 28, 2011 at 9:04 am

Great post – everyone should find a time and place to start reflecting on the abruptness of life.

I like this quote, “Life is a solo trip, but you’ll have lots of visitors. I say this a lot and always will. Your life is one long unbroken experience, and you’re the only one who’s there the whole time. Visitors will come in and out of your experience. Most of them are short-term and you won’t notice when they’ve made their last appearance.”

Colleen September 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

Hi David,
So many times I’ve found myself looking at the people I love most as if from the future, and not just through the lense of loss. Change applies here too.
In 1986, I stood in the narrow hallway of a mobile home, staring down at my incredibly beautiful infant daughter as she stared back at me just as intently. My love for her was almost uncontainable. I imagined myself on a faraway future day, longing for that moment again, just to have her as she was that afternoon, secure in my arms, the slight weight of her body remembered forever. Now she is almost 25, with a young son of her own. The baby girl exists no more.
As for loss, I’ve stood with my dad on his carport in the evening, chatting comfortably as I prepared to return to my house. He always walked me out, and stood waving as I drove away holding onto the sensation of his careful hug, seeing myself yearning for his warm living presence from a future moment. And I do.
My father died in July and my mother stopped breathing last Thursday. Coincidentally, they both exited at the same age from the same cause at the same hospital in the same unit in the very same little room. They both waited until I left immediately after the 4:00-4:30 pm visitation period.
I’d never known a world that didn’t have my parents in it, and now I do.
The longer I’m here, the less I take for granted.
Time changes everything.

David October 2, 2011 at 11:05 am

I have no kids but I’ve watched a few children in my life grow up. Even if they live to an old age, once they’re done being 2, they’ll never be 2 again. Once they’re done being 5, that five-year-old is gone forever. It’s something a person can be sad about, but it’s a beautiful feeling to accept this change in real time. Now is always over, something new is always taking form.

Sara September 28, 2011 at 9:54 am

What you said about resistance to change causing suffering is something I myself have been contemplating lately. Great article!

Dads September 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

I am doing this daily.I can already feel its profound impact on me.

Teresa September 28, 2011 at 10:34 am

I’ve been reading your blog for a while now. Absolutely LOVE it! But this may well be the best thing I’ve EVER read!!! On any blog.

I’m going back to read it again.

David October 2, 2011 at 11:01 am

Wow, thanks Teresa. Don’t just read it though, do it :)

nrhatch September 28, 2011 at 10:58 am

We are ALL going to DIE . . . but how many of us take the time to really LIVE?

We are HERE and it is NOW . . . what else is there?

marc van der Linden September 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

“Life is a solo trip, but you’ll have lots of visitors.”

I love this quote. We all have to go one day and the only task we really have to do is to live and interact with the other people visiting us in of our life.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Nitya September 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I’ve often unwittingly had this feeling. I think I’d call it something like “current reflection” or “projected reflection”. Perhaps it’s “savouring the moment for future reference”. Whatever the term, I’m glad someone else has experienced it as well. Thanks.

David October 2, 2011 at 11:06 am

It’s a feeling that can be cultivated on purpose, bus sometimes it does just appear out of the blue.

Summer Eastwood September 28, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Love this, David. My current situation – having left my “day job” to chase a hope and a dream – mandates that I settle firmly in the present moment, as I have no clue what lies around the bend in my journey. With that realization, that anything could happen, I have come to see that all that really matters is the moment I am in right now. It’s freedom, truly. Cheers.

sui September 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm

I love this post, David… I’ve been reading more about Zen lately, but that’s not the point.

Why don’t people live more with the awareness that we won’t be here anymore? I don’t see why any of us shouldn’t.

I just read this post after reading Steven Pressfield’s latest for Writing Wednesday, and I’m just hit by the inspiration and amazing ideas in both.

I really like how you’re writing lately David. I feel like it’s a universal consciousness shift, actually. But I really appreciated not just the content but the structure and the title of this post…

(I realize now that if I had read this before I wrote my post today, I would’ve put you on my list. Oops. Sorry bro ;P)

David October 2, 2011 at 11:07 am

I think trying to hold on as life passes is a survival mechanism. We try to freeze time and freeze certain conditions, because we know what happens when it runs out.

Karina June 7, 2012 at 1:09 am

Ancora con sta storia se si pnrede come parametro di confronto la grafica, Wii non pu uscire vincente. Ma gi “solo” RE4 con il Wiimote d molta pi soddisfazione di un gioco simile con il semplice pad. Questa storia della Wii2 fa ridere pure quella non si pu sapere nulla di come sar !

PATRICIA September 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm

This is my first comment to you. I first came across your website using StumbleUpon and have become addicted! I signed up for emails, and just forwarded this one to all of my friends. Your perceptions are so astute and your ability to express what’s true, but almost never said is outstanding. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts …I look forward to more, as they are truly inspiring…which is something I really need right now. You are a gift.

David October 2, 2011 at 11:08 am

Well thank you Patricia. Welcome to Raptitude.

Crys September 29, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Thank you David,
beautiful post.
I have four children, they are all adults, infant hood went by so fast and I enjoyed my babies so much. They are gone. Who are these big people?
When my youngest (now 22) was born I basked in every moment. I soaked up every smile, every snore, every warm cuddle. When I woke in the morning, I rushed to gather him from his crib to be with him. I knew it would go fast. I paid attention. I’m so glad I knew to do it. I remember so much from those times. I also remember my Dad and my Grandmother, I knew they were leaving so I could have those moments. It’s those who are suddenly taken and we didn’t think to make the memories from the everyday moments. I will take your advice and remember with them NOW !

Anjali September 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I feel like this often, and it is a beautiful perspective, but it depresses me at the same time. It makes me nostalgic and adds a sad element to the present when I think of it as a memory. And it makes me want to hold on to it desperately which is not possible. It is harder these days because I know I have to leave this town that I love so dearly, very soon and leave some special people behind. Even though I can appreciate my great fortune in having been here and met these people, it makes my heart heavy. I wish I could adopt a happier attitude towards it, rather than just being in denial.

David October 2, 2011 at 11:13 am

When we recognize impermanence, there’s two things we can do with it. We can fight it, and suffer, or we can embrace it and feel gratitude for everything that is here now and is yet to come. Everything returns to dust, so if it was ever worth anything, we owe it our appreciation that it is here, rather than fearing a time when it won’t be.

Steph in Berkeley September 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm

holy beauty,

that was so well put. you have a gift David, to bring these moments to us in writing. Thank you for sharing it.

sapir October 1, 2011 at 8:00 am

i agree with “Steph in Berkeley” – very well writing!

sandy vogels October 2, 2011 at 11:52 am

hi david
i love this post. my dad has been ill with cancer for about a year and i have been spending alot of time seeing things and people has if i never going to see them again. it is an incredibly warm, sweet, rich way of being in the world. the other day i was helping him down some stairs and holding his hand and i realized that i had never been so so close to him as i was with death so near. love to you!

Janet Maher October 2, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Wonderful post. I’m passing it on.
Janet

David Ashton October 3, 2011 at 2:08 am

Great post. Another benefit of a nostalgic look at the present is the realization that I am wasting precious time – a needed kick in the pants!

Anna October 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I love this. I can actually remember a few times in my life where I’ve done this by accident, stepped back and looked at things from the outside and realized just how precious the simple moments are. But I have never been able to put it into words like this. Thank you.

anon October 3, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Thinking of the fact that we’re born alone, will die alone, and most of the people in our lives will eventually move on and leave is not a beautiful thing in my opinion. It’s rather depressing…I try to think about the here and now rather than how impermanent things are.

sayama October 4, 2011 at 2:48 am

Thanks for an interesting and thought-provoking post David. I’ve often caught myself in the situation of observing the moment and the people I’m sharing it with, imagining a future me looking back on the scene, and with that come the realisation that the moment is both immensely precious and fleeting. Your post made me remember both the moments imprinted on my memory as a result of this exercise, and the importance of continuing to practice appreciation of the present moment.

Gi October 4, 2011 at 7:42 am

Thank you David! You made my day.

George October 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Thanks David – very Zen-like post indeed.

We all should be aware that we won’t be here forever…

kyle October 7, 2011 at 12:03 am

As Steve Jobs said: “I don’t want to be the richest man in the cemetery.”

Susan October 17, 2011 at 4:52 am

This is the first time I have commented on any blog but I stumbled on this and it interested me.
I remember a time in my life when I was truly happy but I didn’t know I was, husband, 3 kids and a dog , nice house, employment = contentment. Then our oldest and only son got leukaemia and we spent more than two years going through the hell of his illness only to lose him aged 18. We were all around his bedside when he died which was heart wrenching but wouldn’t want it any other way.
Throughout his illness I spent a lot of time imaging life without him and appreciating time we had together but sadly my girls suffered a great deal at that time. They suffered not only the same stress and grief but a lack of parental attention.
Now my constant fear is losing the girls. One is living thousands of miles away and I’m really pleased for her OE adventure but miss her terribly and the times I spend with my younger daughter are really precious.
This is not the acceptance of impermanence you speak of but a genuine fear of loss. Believe me I’m not some miserable grief stricken woman I’m actually a cheerful optimistic person (at least on the surface) but I would love advice on how to escape that fear…. Sadly I understand the thinking of Robert Burns who said
Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me;
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects dreaer!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

I truly wish I could live more in the minute…
advice? … yeah that’s all!

sg October 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm

David, first off, I must congratulate you for doing such a commendable job with your blog. I was recently introduced to it by a very dear friend (whom I can’t thank enough), and although I haven’t even made it through the ‘essentials’ yet, I am extremely touched by:
a. The way you think, your values, philosophies and beliefs
b. How well you are able to articulate these thoughts/beliefs – in a way that is very structured and easy-to-follow
c. How you take a ‘detached’ look at everything and relate it to a very practical way of living

I guess, I’m saying: Thank you. You certainly have a gift, and we are fortunate that you have discovered it and are sharing it with us.

Now for the reason I decided to write…
As with many of the earlier commentors, I am hardly one to comment on blogs. But the reason I am here is that this particular post couldn’t resonate more with me.

As a fan of Fight Club, I have internalized many of Tyler Durden’s (Brad Pitt’s character, for the unfamiliar) philosophies – many of which, I confess, have played a very strong role in shaping my own (no, I do not believe in mayhem/destruction, I hope we all agree that Fight Club is much more than that).

“*know*… not fear… *know*… that someday you’re gonna die” is, therefore, something (I would like to believe) I have accepted and internalized.

Yet, as I read the title of this post, my first reaction was to somehow avoid reading it and move on to others. A few posts later, I finally mustered the courage to come back to this one.
I found it baffling that I was so troubled by the title, despite my reasonable comfort with *knowing* that one day I am going to die. Up until this point, I was very clear that I did not *fear* dying. So what was this uneasiness all about?!
I was finally able to zero it down to three words in the title: “… and your friends”. These words changed the entire meaning for me. Yes, I have accepted that *I* will die one day, and I have no fear of that. But I do harbour an acute fear of losing (a handful of) people that I really care about.

However, as I read your post, and your suggestion of experiencing the beauty of impermanence by imagining the moment with a loved one removed, I remembered a dream that had left me really disturbed: I was with my loved ones – except, I did not really exist. So everything I said and did, was inconsequential. No one could hear me, see me, touch me, feel my touch. I remember feeling extremely helpless, imprisoned. All I wanted to do was give them a hug, but I couldn’t. It was exactly like you suggest – except everyone else was as they were, and *I* was the one removed.
As I woke up, I was relieved it was all a dream. But it had shaken me up.

Does this mean that I actually do fear death? I believe there is a distinction to be made: I do not fear my own death in the way that one would think fearing death is all about. I do, however, fear *losing* people I care about. My (or their) dying will ensure that I do *lose* them. Dying is therefore, not the root cause of the fear – it is the loss of loved ones.

I’d hate to come across as a philosophy geek obsessed with *technical* details, but I believe the above distinction is important. Making this distinction in my mind has really helped me value my life, the people I love and the time that we do get to spend together.
I try to make it a point to spend as much time as I can with the people I care about, and especially try to not let trivial differences get in the way of our relationship.
No – I haven’t been as good at it as I would like to be. I continue to make mistakes that I am not proud of. But I now make it a point to apologize where due, make every effort to undo the damage where possible, and not repeat that behaviour in the future. Yes, it isn’t easy. But just understanding and accepting the *impermanence* of these bonds that I value so much, has had me put in a lot more effort to preserve the few that really matter to me… and it is beautiful.

So is my fear a bad thing? Yes (just like Susan mentioned, above) – I would rather not have it. But I also see how this fear of losing people I care about has helped me really value them. So perhaps it is not such a bad thing after all?

As Dr. J Krishnamurthi (a philosopher) writes (not verbatim): “Fear is never in the present. We either fear something will happen (future), or something that has happened in the past will come back to haunt us. Living in the present, therefore, is the only antidote to fear.”
I confess, I never really *knew* what “living in the present” meant in a practical sense. But I guess making the most of the time we get to spend with people we care about is as good a start as I can think of.

I personally believe it is important that we be *aware* of this fear and embrace it as an inevitability – not as something sad and painful, but simply as a fact. It is then that we can make the most of our time here.

As you commented, David: “it’s easy to worry about losing what we have, but all we have is the present and we give it up so that we can worry about not having it”

A dear friend (the same one who introduced me to your blog) recently said something to me, which I have deeply taken to heart – and hope to really live up to:
“Whenever you are with someone you care deeply about, my advice to you, myself, and everyone is to really appreciate and value them in that moment, and the time you get to spend with them”.

I apologize if this note lacks coherence, and I am sure it could be articulated a lot better – but for what it’s worth… it feels good to be sharing with people who think about and value these questions/thoughts as much as I do

moo April 15, 2012 at 11:53 am

how do i go past the point of being overcome with sorrow over the inevitability of death and the seeming futility of our brief lives, to be able to truly live in the moment?

moo April 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm

how do i go past the point of being overcome with sorrow over the inevitability of death and the seeming futility of our brief lives, to be able to fully live in the moment and experience true joy in doing so? i have no problems imagining those i love being no longer around, but i find myself unable to move beyond this aching sadness.

David April 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Why should life have to be endless for it to be worthwhile? If you are sad knowing that there’s something to lose, then you have to recognize that what you are afraid to lose is here right now, and by worrying about the day it goes, you are throwing it away. You will have thoughts all the time your whole life, and each one will pretend like it really needs to be examined, especially the worrisome ones. But it’s a trap. There’s no resolution to them, and the right thing to do is abandon them. Chalk them up as just more habitual needless thinking, and return your attention to what it is in the present moment that you are most grateful for. There is nothing that lasts forever, but the irony is when you let things come and go as they will (rather than worrying about their inevitable loss) you experience a timelessness in which you can appreciate anything and not worry about losing it.

moo April 19, 2012 at 9:57 am

david, thank you.

Navroop July 7, 2012 at 7:59 am

Firstly, I love your work. Every article I read is like a breath of fresh air. My thoughts don’t just end by the last word of every post, but continues to become a beautiful realization for many minutes after that. Thank you.

I have had dreams of losing someone or something. Those dreams have been extremely vivid and i would wake up in sweats only to realize that it was just a dream and i still have that person around..ever felt that? its a beautiful feeling! Therefore doing the above exercise consciously is so liberating. All your anger, disappointments and frustrations dwindle away by the single realization that one day I might not have him/her in my life and i need to make the best of it now….thank you :)

Navroop July 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

Firstly, I love your work. Every article I read is like a breath of fresh air. My thoughts don’t just end by the last word of every post, but continues to become a beautiful realization for many minutes after that.

I have had dreams of losing someone or something. Those dreams have been extremely vivid and i would wake up in sweats only to realize that it was just a dream and i still have that person around..ever felt that? its a beautiful feeling! Therefore doing the above exercise consciously is so liberating. All your anger, disappointments and frustrations dwindle away by the single realization that one day I might not have him/her in my life and i need to make the best of it now….thank you :)

murielar November 16, 2012 at 6:38 am

Hi David!
I discovered your blog just a few days ago and I find it highly thought provoking. I was missing that in my life lately! And I needed a push to start changing things! Thanks for your thoughts and words. It is the first time I write, but this time I feel I have to: my husband died 2 months ago after 3 years of fighting cancer. He was only 52 and it has been a long and painful period. I do not know how to explain it, but the sorrow I feel is not for not having him by my side anymore (as you say I had him and I keep beautiful memories, etc). What hurts me most is the fact that he will no longer be able to enjoy a sunny day, a nice film or whatever silly thing that makes life woth living.
For me, it is not my death which is difficult to cope with. It is not that my husband cannot be by my side every day. It is the thought that he cannot enjoy anything anymore that makes me feel really sad. Being a convinced atheist, there is no “after life” comfort.

David November 18, 2012 at 11:27 am

When my dad died I had the opposite feeling. I was comforted that he had reached the finish line and never had to experience stress, pain or uncertainty again. Even without an afterlife, death is liberation from all suffering.

In any case, I hope that by being upset at your husband’s inability to enjoy the sunshine, that you aren’t preventing yourself from enjoying it.

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/11/you-must-go-do-the-next-thing/

Vishwa December 24, 2012 at 2:56 am

Fantastic post. What a profound thought that is. Thanks for sharing. Came here just a few days ago and am truly enjoying your posts, and the deep wisdom they contain :-)

Manpreet March 5, 2013 at 1:52 am

This is such a beautiful article, David. I came here following the links from your latest post, “How to grow”.

Navroop April 10, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Amor! Simple and beautiful!

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