One day, each and every single one of us will die.
Nobody has escaped death.
Nobody ever will.
You are not exempt.
Neither am I.
But, everybody runs from it.
Do you want to be great? Do you want to make an impact in the world? Do you wish to be remembered?
If so, then you must stop running away and embrace death.
Give up the illusion of permanence.
The Code of the SamuraibyThomas Cleary1 speaks about this topic in length: “If people comfort their minds with the assumption that they will live a long time, something might happen, because they think they will have forever to do their work. (page 3)”
As much as I love the concept of immortality, I think it will do more bad than good.
We don’t need immortality.
The population would soar through the roof. There would probably be laws against having new kids.
Biologists are currently finding ways of prolonging life to the rate that we’ll live to be a 1000 years old some day.2
We don’t need longer life. Forget overpopulation and laws that ban birth, and accept the fact that people are lazy.
We take for granted the things that are handed to us freely. Because of sanitation and wonderful advances in science, Humans are living longer than ever before.
We do NOT need more time. Rather, we need more discipline. The average life span has nearly doubled in the past 200 years.
For someone who was never meant for this world, I must confess I’m suddenly having a hard time leaving it. Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star. Maybe I’m not leaving… maybe I’m going home.- Gattaca3
Now, even though I believe less life is certainly more impacting than more life, there are still extremes.
On one extreme exist the people who believe they should live every day as if it were their last. The people do a lot in their lives, but don’t necessarily accomplish anything.
On the other extreme exist the people who believe in putting things off until tomorrow. These people achieve just as much as the people form the other extreme achieve: basically, nothing.
I will call the former mindset the I Will Die mentality.
I will call the latter mindset the I’m Am Forever mentality.
I Will Die
I hate the saying, “Live each day like it were your last.” It was meant to be a testament toward the shortness of life, and how we much make the best of each moment that we have; however, the meaning has been butchered by so many people that I’ve decided to completely drop it from my mind.
The fact is that people who live by such a motto and up doing stupid and reckless things that actually put their lives in danger and bring forth no achievement.
Now, sure, there may be many people who take such a motto as ways to inspire themselves to live better lives, but most people vandalize the meaning.
Here are the attributes of people who live each day as if it were their last:
- They drink/eat excessively.
- They don’t strive for greatness, because, in their minds, greatness is a wasted effort when death is so near.
- They sleep around with random whores.
- They fail their classes.
- They drop out of school.
- They steal.
- They work jobs they hate just so that they can pay the bills and have whatever amount of fun they can have.
The positive trait of people with this mindset is that they are generally fearless. Their minds, however, are focused on accomplishing all of the things that really have no value and will actually make life worse.
I Am Forever
Just as equally as the previous motto, I hate, “Why do today what one can put off until tomorrow?”
These people are generally pathetic and fearful. The “I will die” group at least has the courage to do something crazy in life. The people of this group are the wallflowers of life.
They never take action. They never risk anything. They either look down on themselves, or they pretty much believe in laziness. They may desire success, and they may dream heavily about it, but they always believe that it will just happen to them magically. These people, ironically, have the same attributes!:
- They drink/eat excessively. (Party now, work later)
- They don’t strive for greatness, because, in their minds, they have all the time in the universe in order to succeed.
- They sleep around with random whores. (Mr/Mrs Right will definitely come some day.)
- They fail their classes. (I don’t feel like studying right now. The game is on.)
- They drop out of school. (Bill Gates did it, so why can’t I?)
- They steal. (In the worst case scenario, I’ll only get a month in the slammer. It’s only an HDMI cable anyway.)
- They work jobs they hate just so that they can pay the bills and have whatever amount of fun they can have. (This is just temporary. My REAL job is on its way.)
The positive trait of people with this mindset is that, regardless of the similar attributes, they are more cautious. They won’t do anything dangerous without really thinking things through beforehand. Their minds, however, are focused on holding off accomplishment until the future; therefore, they achieve nothing in life either.
Interlude: I call upon a third type of person, because I love duality. Separately, these two groups are weak and self destructive; however, if there to be a fusion, we’d create a force to be reckoned with.
Both extremes are combined to form a new mindset.
I will call the new mindset, “I am of Tombstones and Heartbeats”
I am of Tombstones and Heartbeats
When you live each day as if it were your last, you don’t accomplish much because your mindset is focused heavily focused on instant gratification. You feel that you must focus on your pleasures now, because you may not be able to experience them tomorrow.
Similarly, when you live life as if each day is but a small piece of an infinite future, you also don’t accomplish much because your mind is still focused on instant gratification. You feel that you have all your life to attain your victories, so you focus on your pleasure as well.
Both ways are a means to the same end.
I proclaim that today is the day we make a new motto to live life by.
No, let’s not call it a motto.
Call it a decree instead.
We must take both worlds and unite them in order that a new world may exist:
Live EACH DAY as if it were your last, but EXPECT that there still may be a tomorrow.
Something absolutely AMAZING happens when you adopt this mindset in life.
Something absolutely amazing happens when you declare,
“Today may be my last day on earth, so I’m going to do WHATEVER it takes to leave a mark, but I also understand that there is that chance that I may wake up tomorrow, and if I do wake up tomorrow, I do not want to wake up to a regret. I live each day as if it were my last, but i expect that tomorrow may still come.”
First, you live each day as if it were your last. Since death is always just around the corner, you make sure that you do whatever it takes to make your presence known. You do not hesitate. You value every moment of your life, therefore you make sure you walk deliberation. Your soul will be that of a man or woman who knows no fear, thus you be fearless.
Second, even though you are aware of the imminence of death, you still realize that there is the slight chance that tomorrow may exist; therefore, you will never wake up to a stupid mistake. Your reputation will always be on mind. You realize that life is short, yet life is also precious. Though death is near, you still have the power to dream. You look to the future for a day when you will one day achieve unrivaled greatness, but because of the rush of death, you take action today. True, you may die tomorrow, but if you do happen to wake up, then you will be happy for the steps you took yesterday. Every day, you bring yourself closer and closer to your goal, every day you bring yourself closer and closer to greatness.
With this mindset and decree, you don’t waste time on foolish endeavors which have no intrinsic value. Instead, you focus on a few select things, and you capitalize on them. Such a philosophy will be taught in a future blog post.
Life is not measured by the moments that we breathe but by the moments that take our breath away.- Unknown
The benefits of having this new mindset are endless:
- You don’t work a job you hate. You realize that you will die one day, so you make it an aim not to participate in an occupation you hate and do not believe in.
- You are more proactive in the mating scene. Death reminds you that you need to find somebody to sexually reproduce with in order that your genes may still exist long after your body whithers away.
- You are more SELECTIVE of who you mate with, because you are constantly aware of your reputation. You wouldn’t choose some random whore to sleep with, because you realize that the shortness of life demands that you leave behind a good name for yourself.
- You are fearless. When death is around the corner, what do you have to fear?
- You are more accomplished. We all want to be remembered. How will the remember you? When you realize death is near, you let go of all of the inessential things and you focus on what’s most important. And, along with that focus on importance, you also focus on accomplishment. Your sense of tomorrow makes it so that you don’t do anything today which you may regret later.
- You are more kind to others, because you realize that you may never see them again, but you also realize that they may come to your aide one day if you really need it.
- You enjoy life more, because every moment may be your last. Yet, you also create more joy because you know that you have to leave your mark on society.
- You actually live longer because you are more cautious of what you put in your mouth.
- There is a great balance in work life, family life, and recreational life because you realize that all three are very important. You work where you love to work, you spend lots of time with family, and you plan out lots of moments to have fun because life is short. And since you may wake up to a tomorrow, you make sure that you spread love in all three areas of your life. You devote yourself to excellence.
Some people live as if there is no tomorrow.
Others live as though life is infinite.
But you, my friend, are of Tombstones and Heartbeats.
Live each day as if it were your last, but expect that there may still be a tomorrow.
The idea of combining both philosophies is completely mine. I did take concepts from a couple of different places though:
Daidoji, Yuzan, Thomas F. Cleary, and Oscar Ratti. Code of the Samurai. Boston, MA.: C.E. Tuttle, 1999. Print.
Smith, Caspar Llewellyn. “My Bright Idea: Aubrey De Grey on Living Longer | Science | The Observer.” Latest News, Comment and Reviews from the Guardian | Guardian.co.uk. Web. 03 Aug. 2010. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/aug/01/aubrey-de-grey-ageing-research>.
“Gattaca (1997) – Memorable Quotes.” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 03 Aug. 2010. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/quotes>.