The truth is none of us know how much time we have in this life.--Sam Harris, from the introduction to his podcast discussion with Frank Ostaseski, a Zen Hospice pioneer - to complete the plug "And there are very people more aware of death and the lessons it has to teach us than my guest today. Today I'm speaking to Frank Ostaseski..." - the podcast is a good listen.
And taking that fact to heart brings a kind of moral and emotional clarity and energy to the present. Or at least it can.
And it can bring a resolve to not suffer over stupid things.
I mean take something like "road rage". This is probably the quintessential example of misspent energy. You're behind the wheel of your car, and somebody does something erratic, or they're probably just driving more slowly than you want. And you find yourself getting angry. Now I would submit to you that that kind of thing is impossible if you're being mindful of the shortness of life. If you're aware that you are going to die, and that the other person is going to die, and that you're both going to lose everyone you love and you don't know when... you've got THIS moment of life, this beautiful moment, this moment where your consciousness is bright, it's not dimmed by morphine in the hospital on your last day among the living. And the sun is out, or it's raining- both are beautiful. And your spouse is alive, and your children are alive, and you're driving. And you're not in some failed state where civilians are being rounded up and murdered by the thousands. You're just running an errand. And that person in front of you, who you will never meet, whose hopes and sorrows you know nothing about but which if you COULD know them you would recognize are impressively similar to your own - is just driving slow.
This is your life. The only one you've got. And you will never get this moment back again. And you don't know how many more moments you have. No matter how many times you do something, there will come a day when you do it for the last time. You've had a thousand chances to tell the people closest to you that you love them in a way that they FEEL it, and in a way that YOU feel it. And you've missed most of them. And you don't know how many more you're going to get. You've got this next interaction with another human being to make the world a marginally better place, you've got this one opportunity to fall in love with existence, so why not relax and enjoy your life? REALLY relax. Even in the midst of struggle. Even while doing hard work. Even under uncertainty.
You are in a game right now, and you can't see the clock, so you don't know how much time you have left. And yet you're free to make the game as interesting as possible; you can even change the rules, you can discover new games that no one has thought of yet. You can make games that used to be impossible suddenly possible and get others to play them with you. You can literally build a rocket to go to Mars so that you can start a colony there. I actually know people who will spend some part of today doing that. But whatever you do, however seemingly ordinary, you can feel the preciousness of life. And an awareness of death is the door into that way of being in the world.
U.S. Navy Is Very Sorry That Their Pilot Drew A Dong In The Sky. This is powerful shamanic magic.
I plan to take solace in how when our acrobatic robotic overlords come to take over, their boxes will say "Boston Dynamics" WOOOO BOSTON!!!!