I saw someone else die today.
By the tenth or so time, it's no longer traumatic, if not quite routine. And when someone old dies of natural causes, it does takes away from the tragedy. Death is a part of nature, and we have a tendency to accept all natural things as being good, even if that's not really the case.
In the West, we've secluded death into sanitized, hidden crevices where we can avoid looking at it. With the exception of traffic accidents or the evening news, we've made the collective decision to ignore the terminal endpoint that is approaching all of us - admittedly, for understandable reasons.
And yet there are certain benefits to seeing death - which for me, is still an overwhelmingly surreal experience, fundamentally unreal in the sensorium of the moment.
Death is the great focuser of our lives: it forces us to concentrate on what's most important, and it forces us to remember the value of time. Time is something that's so easy to take for granted, and yet time is the very essence of life itself. What is life, other than a series of present moments?
I remembered today what's really important to me. I remembered the value of the people I love and the things I love doing, and I was grateful for that. I was grateful for the fall colours of the leaves I saw through the window of my gym, for my own strength and vitality, and for my own relative youth, even if it is quickly fading.
It's not a form of nihilism to meditate on your own impending annihilation. If anything, it is an offering, a realization of the miracle that is conscious experience, and an appreciation for the time that we have already had.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis