Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The party everyone is invited to

When I was in college I took this sociology class, and I remember one day of it particularly. For some reason we did an exercise related to death and dying. Our professor asked us to work in groups and talk to eachother about what we would do if we only had 1 year left to live. In our groups we discussed this, albeit reserved and a bit uncomfortable as each of us tried to figure the question out. Then he had us do the exercise again, if we only had 6 months left, 1 month left, 1 day left, 1 hour left, 1 minute left, and finally 10 seconds left. It was fascinating. Particularly the professor’s answer if he only had 10 seconds left. He said something like, “I would leave the classroom, go to the water cooler, get a glass of water, and really drink that water, really feel it run through my body, really appreciate the beauty and splendor of that water.” His answer surprised me, wouldn’t you try and talk to your loved ones on the phone I thought? Then he talked about how we all really die alone. Big stuff for college kids that just have not really thought about their own mortality at all.

I’ve been thinking about that exercise lately, and about the concept of life hours, and the idea of trying to insert the idea of your mortality into more of the choices you make each day. Who you spend time with, what job you do, how you treat others, how you spend your money, what you do for pleasure, etc.

When we did this exercise last night my husband said for most of the different time periods he would do all things pleasurable and do them with those he loved. For me, my answers were a little different. Since I was small I have felt this push to do something meaningful, unique and special before I die. Something that makes my life seem to have a purpose. I know this is not uncommon, but when I started dating Brian I was surprised by the lack of this need within him. I wasn’t sure about it at first. But then I started to envy it. I wished I could turn down the volume of that voice in my head that pushes me to create, seek, and “produce” continually. That’s something I am working on. Being more and doing less. Brian is a good teacher.

If I work to be more like Brian, I stop worrying about how productive I am and think about my mortality in a different way. Think about how much I love being with my family and friends, playing music, dancing, performing, cooking, loving and then do those things with no guilt attached because there isnt some sort of product that gets created to indicate my self worth. This trip is good for that, though of course I already have a list of things I want to accomplish while I am away! But I’m trying. And Im not saying that being productive and creative is a bad thing. It is a bad thing when you do those things to help hide away your eventual death. When you go go go to make you feel like your life happened for a reason, instead of living it with presence and gratitude and calm.

We learn our whole lives. It is so interesting how the amount you need/want to learn seems to increase as you get older. I remember clearly some point in my college career when I just thought, gosh is there anything else interesting to learn about or know about? I feel like I know everything already! Ahhhhh the blissful ingnorance of youth.

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