“It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die and it is a good thing to think about it while there is still time.” – Ecclesiastes 7:2
When will you take your last breath?
Is it something you like to think you’ll deal with much, much, later?
I know I do.
Death itself isn’t the problem. I imagine that death as an event is probably less bothersome than a visit to the dentist in 8 out of 10 cases. What concerns me is all of the choices that lead up until the moment our hearts stop beating.
I wonder if I’m making choices with death in mind. If I recognized how omnipresent the end is, I’d probably attack life a bit differently.
What if we could see death?
What if when we were born, we could only see death as a blip on the horizon. A dark spot beside sunsets that could just as easily have been a trick of the retina. What if by the time we were middle age we could only just make out the outline of a figure in a bowler hat and a pocket watch in the far distance. As the years rolled by the figure got closer but we really couldn’t tell if he or she was fat or slim, tall or short, walking or just standing still.
If every evening we could look at the horizon and see death, lay down and wake up the following morning, glance out the ice-frosted window, and notice that death must have taken just a step closer to us while we slept.
What if by the time we were in our seventies we could make out the brand of the pocket watch and from time to time could see death leaning towards us a drunken sailor at port.
What if after years of growing comfortable with, and ignoring death we were shocked that somehow, while we weren’t paying attention, death had spent the last couple years in our homes, moving from the porch, to the living room, to the guest bathroom, and now seemed to making himself quite comfortable in the chair across from our bed.
Too tired to do much of anything, we watch him somberly as he stands up, reaching and stretching slowly, looking at his antique pocket watch critically and taking one step to the head of the bed. He’d lean over us and we’d feel his humid breath on our cheek as he breathed into our ear “It’s time.”
But we don’t.
Because, (1) that would be creepy.
And (2), that would drastically change the way we lived day-to-day.
That’s the reality, however.
I wonder what you would change if you started being able to see death.