The Future is Shrinking
Death. Nobody seems to want to talk about it. At least not about their own death. Go figure. But as we all know, it’s comin’. Yeah, the Grim Reaper is out there and your name is in his book whether you like it or not.
In my way of thinking, strange though it is, we all should spend some time exploring the concept and preparing as best we can for our coming demise.
The alternative is to ignore it, wait until the time comes, and see how things play out. Bad idea. It’s a little like that big bill you know is coming—replacing the car when it finally dies, property taxes, or an inevitable yet unexpected vet bill. With a little planning, you can prepare and ease the pain greatly.
You see, most people don’t have a pleasant death. It’s rather the other way around. Pain, trapped in a hospital away from your home and people, loss of mobility, loss of bodily functions mental and physical, awaiting the inevitable, and, oh yeah, did I mention pain? I guess if that’s the way you want to go out, then go for it. As for myself, I’m going to at least make some attempt to be prepared, although there are never any guarantees.
People’s priorities in life change, especially as they age. Despite all the media out there encouraging us to live more in the present, we still tend to live in the past and particularly in the future. We live in a near-perpetual state of “As soon as I accomplish/acquire [fill in the blank],…”.
- As soon as I own my own home.
- As soon as I get a pay raise.
- As soon as I meet my soulmate.
But, of course, as soon as you arrive, you move the goal posts!
Here’s the hitch.
One day you’re going to attempt to move the goal posts and realize that your future is running out. You’re going to face the undeniable fact that there isn’t enough runway left to get that plane off the ground. You’re going to have to remove that goal from your bucket list…permanently. There isn’t enough room left in the bucket. You aren’t the exception. This WILL happen to you.
A bunch of stuff happens at this point.
First, there’s the soul searching. You’ll need to get your head around this new reality, this awareness of your mortality. Of course, you could choose to just ignore it as I’ve said before, and see how things pan out. Good luck with that.
The other choice is to embrace it. Accept it as fact and try to understand what it all means and how best to live out your remaining, shrinking future.
Second, your list of what is important will get shorter and shorter, and your list of what isn’t important will grow exponentially. Gazing into the eyes of the reaper can give you some real clarity.
The good news is that this isn’t necessarily bad. Once your mortality becomes real, and you truly get it, you will likely find that your priorities and your choices will begin to change.
What it really comes down to is time.
Some people like Oliver Burkeman in his book, Four Thousand Weeks, compare time to the story of the fish who don’t understand the existence of water because it is so ubiquitous as to be essentially invisible.
But this invisible thing, time, is an essential part of understanding our existence. It is the framework within which we structure our whole lives. Can you look at your life outside of the context of time? I think not.
(This article is in development so check back if you’re curious to see where it goes from here)