A few days ago I tried to explain my relationship with reality. Given how meaty, or in my case, tofuy, that subject is, I necessarily had to leave out some of the maxims that currently guide my life.
The title of this blog post is another one: live as if you could die at any moment.
Practically speaking, i really mean live as much as possible as if you could die at any moment, because likely it would be counterproductive to always have a sensation that death could come in the next instant. Or, maybe not. I'm unsure about this.
Regardless, I like this maxim better than how it often is phrased: live as if this could be your last day.
That strikes me as problematic for a couple of reasons. First, until it really is the day of my death, I'm going to be wrong about this being my last day.
So it doesn't make sense to spend every day doing things that I wouldn't engage in if I wasn't going to die that day, since the odds are strongly in favor of that being the case. For example, on my last day I might want to have lengthy heartfelt talks with my daughter, granddaughter, and wife about how much I love them and what they mean to me.
If I did that every day, before too long they'd be justified in telling me, "Um, we really need to cut down on those talks, because they're taking up too much time in our own busy days."
Second, life is uncertain, as is death. We don't know when our life will end. If we're young, the odds are that we have many more years to live, but that isn't guaranteed. Those odds go down the older we become. However, the uncertainty remains.
Thus living as if every day could be our last day introduces more of a sense of certainty into our lifespan than I feel comfortable with.
This is why I prefer the feeling that I could die at any moment. This takes away the "day" restriction, making the sensation of life's fragility as ever-present as possible -- again, I emphasize the "as possible." Feeling pressure to squeeze every last drop of meaning out of each moment would be exhausting and life-defeating.
Instead, periodically throughout the day I simply enjoy thinking, "If I were to die in the next moment, how would I feel?"
Now obviously I wouldn't feel great about dying, to put it mildly, unless I were in so much pain, or otherwise fed up with living, that death would be a welcome event.
Rather, what I'm getting at -- and this is rather difficult to put into words -- is feeling that at this moment I'm doing the best I can to be happy, productive, and aware. A no regrets sort of feeling. A feeling largely or entirely lacking in "I should have done _____" instead.
Again, I'm not saying that I want to always be doing something dramatic and heartfelt, a last day on earth sort of thing. Mostly my days are filled with ordinary stuff: emptying the dishwasher, going for a dog walk, grocery shopping, brushing my teeth, watching TV.
My goal is to be content with doing all those things. That's what would make dying in the next moment easier, more acceptable, less jarring. I don't like the idea of dying with an angry thought in my head: "Why is that goddamn driver ahead of me going so freaking slow!"
If a semi-truck suddenly crosses into my lane and is about to hit my car head on, I'd prefer that my mind at that moment were to be filled with something more positive, like the idea of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. Ah, bliss...
Thus I'm not concerned very much with what I might be outwardly doing when death unexpectedly pays me a visit, as what my inward state of being is at that moment. I'd rather die with an inner smile than a frown. Knowing that to be the case helps me try to be as calm and positive as possible when things go wrong in my day, as they always do.
Our coffee grinder stopped working this morning in the midst of grinding beans. Not exactly a huge problem, but it irked me, because I then had to take the time to see what Consumer Reports recommended for a replacement, then order the highest rated grinder from Amazon.
If I'm going to die while my web browser is focused on Amazon, I'd like my online shopping to be a pleasant experience, not an unwelcome one.
That's what I mean by live as if you could die at any moment. Being content with whatever I'm doing, no matter how mundane it might me. This is the OXO Brew coffee grinder I ordered. Time will tell if it brings contentment. But it has to be better than no grinder at all.