When I was in my 20s, I was talking to a friend where we both worked, at a high tech company.
That day, we were talking about mortality.
He, who was also in his 20s, declared that people of our age could not possibly have a sense of our own mortality. We could not really understand, said he, that we would die some day.
I had heard that before, but that was not my personal experience. I was born with a congenital heart problem, received my first cardiac pacemaker at age 10, and was definitely aware of mortality issues, in ways my friend was not.
This is my recollection of the rest of that conversation:
Me: Well, that’s probably true for lots of people. That’s not my experience. I’m very aware of mortality issues. I know I’m going to die, and I think about that a lot.
Him: I don’t believe it. You might think you know you’re going to die, but you don’t really know that.
Me: (pause, not knowing what to say to THAT.)
Him: Look, if you really knew you were going to die, you wouldn’t show up to work here every day. You’d be doing things you REALLY want to do.
Me: (Laughing out loud)
Him: What’s so funny?
Me: I have a lot of trouble showing up here every day.
That conversation has always stuck with me, because it represents something important.
I have always had trouble spending time on something that doesn’t feel like a “good enough fit”, because I am sooooo aware that my time is limited.
I think that has served me very well.
It has guided me, continually, in improving my situation, at work (through career changes), in love, and at home.
I’m not saying my progress has been perfect or linear, in any way. (See this post for more about that.)
However, increasingly as I’ve aged, my presence indicates an active choice to be there.*
Every day, when I post, I am choosing whole-heartedly to be here.
I may never know what form the post will ultimately take, but I trust in the process of creation.
That’s how I feel about life, too. I don’t know the course, and how it will end, but I am committed, as much as possible, to every moment.
Okay! It’s time to choose an image, to end this post.
(Pause, while I check my iPhone for a photo that’s a “good enough fit”.)
When people in therapy report progress, strengths, or anything worth celebrating, I sometimes say, “If I had some confetti, I would throw it.”
Here it is:
Thank you for celebrating with me, here and now.
* With some exceptions, of course. I never want to be present when it’s time to do my taxes.