“It” is going to happen…
To everyone, eventually. How we think about it while we are here deeply affects how we live and how we love.
These are my thoughts, shared with honor and respect for your beliefs and perspectives.
May we each live according to the best beliefs for us.
When I was growing up I don’t really remember feeling anything, one way or the other, about death. Just wasn’t something I ever thought about until I was a little bit older, I was probably 11, 12 years old and I got news that my first martial arts instructor, somebody who truly changed my life had died. I was devastated. It was such a profound loss. I remember, as a kid, just crying for days and nothing would take away that ache.
Eventually, time passes and you go through it. And I just never really developed any strong beliefs about death. Just seemed like something that eventually was going to happen and that was it. But as I became a little bit older, I started to observe how many different beliefs there were about this thing that everybody will experience at some point. And I began to realize that, you know, there’s some people that experience it or the death of someone close to them and it’s devastating.
Other people experience it and it’s an opening and an invitation to pay more attention to life. I began to realize that there’s all of these different ways of experiencing the loss of someone close to us or just death in general. And I really began to pay attention, I began to pay attention to my own thoughts about it. And I began to wonder, well, where did those thoughts come from?
You know, are those my thoughts, are those thoughts that I’ve kind of borrowed from other people? And then I had an experience that changed the way that I thought about it forever and I continue to be curious about it. I have my beliefs, you have yours. But I had an experience when I was in my early 20s of going through a lot of competitions, a lot of martial arts tournaments and these were fairly intense, not a lot of rules and I won my fair share of them.
But, one particular night, I lost and I found myself in the hospital. I had a collapsed lung, not a comfortable scenario and as I was waiting for the doctors to come in, I found myself just looking up at the ceiling and just asking myself, how am I? And the answer that came to me is that I’m fine. And it was so shocking for me, how can I be fine when my body just got battered and hurt so much? Then this idea began to form, I’m fine and it felt right, it felt like a real idea.
And I thought, well who’s the me that just got beat up and who’s the me that’s fine? How can both of those be true? And immediately, I started getting all these other ideas and the idea was that I have a body but I’m not my body. And that seemed liked a really interesting idea so I just kept exploring it and these thoughts just started to come in that I have a body, but I’m not my body.
Well, who am I, what am I? And as I was laying there, I remember looking up at the light and see the, you know, lights in the ceiling and I started thinking about the light bulb. Just seemed to me that this light bulb is only illuminated because of the energy and the current that running through it, that’s why the bulb is lit up and when the light switch turns off, nothing happens to the energy, it just goes somewhere else, the bulb goes dark but that energy can’t cease to exist.
And I started to develop a different sense of that energy, I started to develop a different sense of whatever that force is of life that animates these bodies while we’re here. And then it just seemed to me that when that life, when that light, when that energy withdraws from the body the body ceases to be animated, the body stops moving but maybe, maybe nothing happens to that energy.
Maybe that energy just continues on in some other form. And to me, that just made a lot of sense, it made a lot of sense that just because I couldn’t perceive someone else’s energy the same way as I did when they were alive, maybe that energy continues on in some other way.
Now, the reality is, I don’t know for sure. I won’t know until that day comes but I found it very useful belief, I found it a very useful way of looking at this thing that we call death. And, I stopped being afraid of it. I stopped experiencing a fear of death for myself and then I stopped experiencing of fear of the loss of other people.
And so, I don’t know what your beliefs are about it but I do see a lot of people, and I was in this category, a lot of people who have a whole bunch of fear around it. So my question is always, what if there’s nothing to be afraid of? What if it’s as natural a part of life as being born?
So, I’m not here to tell you what your beliefs should be but I know that mine changed, significantly just from thinking and paying attention. So, we all experience loss at times. I just wonder if there’s a way that, perhaps, we could experience the phenomenon of death in a way that’s a little more, a little more light.