My good friend Ivan Gabor had back surgery. Done badly enough that he could have sued the surgeon for malpractice. He did not.
When I asked him why, he said: “I do not have much time left to live. Why would I spend the little time I have left in court?”
He did not deny his death. He knew it was coming. Soon. So he spent his life on what counts.
I, on the other hand, I am in denial of death.
When my mother was dying, I ran to be next to her the last days of her life. But, I was not next to her while she was alive.
What is going on?
I deny death. I do not consider it as a possibility to the degree that it affects my actions. It is as if I assumed that since life was forever, what is the rush ? There is time. I will see my Mom sooner or later…I rushed to be with her only when there was no more “later.” Only when told that death was imminent, did I spring to action .
If we do NOT deny death, if we recognize it is coming, our actions will be totally different.
For instance, ask yourself , if the doctor told you today that you have six months to live, would you do what you are planning to do the next six months, or would you say, stop: I have only six months to live, and I do not want to spend them in court, or at work I hate, or with a person I cannot stand?
Our actions depend on whether we project death as a possibility or not.
We fail to do that. At least, I fail to do that.
I think it is too scary to imagine death. And thus, I direct my actions based on a scenario that projects death as being very, very far off. Far enough to be ignored.
It is much more convenient to assume, we will live forever, that there is time, and there is no pressure to make choices . Just let it be and live life as it comes…
Natural but not smart.
The saying “life is short” is not a stupid saying and should be taken seriously. Life is short, and it is not a general rehearsal. There is no second show. That is it. So are we “spending our time in court,” or squeezing the most out of the minutes left being alive?
And when we argue, consider how important is it to win the argument if we are going to die soon anyway. All at once all those interpersonal fights, ego trips, money chasing…everything is dwarfed if death is at the door.
Maybe that should be a thought that governs our behavior. Maybe by accepting the reality of death-truly accepting it, behaviorally acknowledging it-we will make better choices and derive more peace from our life.
I should read and re-read this blog myself and learn it by heart.
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes