Allows You to Live
Steve Jobs said that "death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life's change agent." Had I read that statement ten years ago, I would have missed his message entirely. Today, I get it; I get it on steroids. What is the difference between then and now? I have danced with death. I now understand what Jobs meant with what seemed a non sequitur. Death is a transformative event in life, if we address it.
Saul Alinsky, a community organizer in Chicago, said of death, "Once you accept your own death, all of a sudden you're free to live. You no longer care about your reputation. You no longer care except so far as your life can be used tactically to promote a cause you believe in."
Again, that statement seems like a logical disconnect. Why are you free when you have addressed your own finiteness and death? I would not have accepted that notion prior to dancing with death. However, it is also true. I am more alive today than I was back in the 60s when I was involved with the civil rights movement. Essentially, Alinsky and Jobs are expressing a truism about death aiding life.
There are all sorts of reasons that you become alive. By addressing the reality of your immortality, you realize that time here on Earth is not renewable. Eventually, you will not be around. Dealing with that reality is a transformative event, which reframes the way you see life. It causes you to Carpe Diem. Unless you seize the day, death and time will seize you.
Therefore, I am writing this essay to three differing groups: those that have not danced with death, those that have danced with death and have denied that reality, and those that have danced with death and have addressed that reality.
Group 1: To those that have not danced with death, I am fully aware that this essay will not be completely fathomable unless you have danced with death. At best, all I can do is to suggest that you follow these simple ideas in preparation to your dance.
Group 2: To those that have danced with death and have denied that reality, you are going to die. Denial is not a life-support system. Indeed, it is just the opposite. By accepting death, that is where life-support comes into play. You must realize that reality without denying it. However, rejecting that reality will cause you to act and live like those that never danced with death. You have danced with death but are in denial. At least, the first group has an excuse. Ben Franklin said the obvious, "Some people die at twenty-five and aren't buried until seventy-five."
Group 3: To those that have danced with death and have addressed that reality, there are many of you. You get the benefit of dancing with death and live your life to the fullest. I have written about Steve Jobs, Randy Pausch, Oliver Sacks, and Saul Alinsky. Each one of these famous people looked at death as a freeing experience. Alinsky said it in a single sentence, "Once you accept your own death, all of a sudden you're free to live." It is an amazing feeling even though to many it seems a non sequitur. What seems like a contradiction is the beginning of truly living. Dancing with death allows you to live.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.
Visit The Mentors and Me page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Best and Worst of Times page to read more about this topic.