Day 321: The gift of mortality

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.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “Day 321: The gift of mortality

  1. PAUL

    Throwing confetti with you is really celebrating! Four cheers for you!

  2. Every day is a celebration, like your picture choice. Specially for you, knowing what you went through at the age of 10. For all of us we should be thankful for everyday we wake up and be able to live another day! Brilliant post!

  3. Exactly, active choices and awareness give our life meaning and content .

  4. Thanks for your insight, Heila. As always, great to see you here.

  5. Congratulations, Ann!

    I have nominated your blog for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

    More about this nomination is at

    • I am honored that you would give me this award. And also very pleased that you are reading and commenting here.

      I just received this same award, yesterday, but I am so pleased that you would offer to me, again! Thank you for being here and sharing your thoughts.

  6. It is like an awakening when we first see our own mortality.

  7. Robert Weir

    yay – thank you Ann

  8. His statement was correct. Why do we do what we do (when we hate it) if we know we are going to die? Why not do what we WANT to do, have a passion for doing…why do we WAIT till later???

    If we KNEW we were going to die, we’d stop wasting time doing things that mean absolutely NOTHING to a purpose driven life, and keep us passionless.

    Wise words. His delivery was a bit rash…but I think he must have meant well.

    LIVE each day as though it is your last…. good thoughts to ponder and work with…

    Good post ❤

  9. Pingback: Day 327: Will, Part Deux | The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally

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