"The only way to do great work is to love what you do." - Steve Jobs
I was on my way to Kuala Lumpur last week when suddenly the plane started to shake.
It entered a turbulent zone. Nothing unusual for the pilots and the crew; but not so much for me. I felt an instant rush of blood through my heart; my palms started sweating and I became more anxious with each second passing by.
Why was I afraid? What was I afraid of? Of plane crashing? Of me dying? Why was I afraid of dying? Why are we humans afraid of dying at all?
Those were the questions I kept asking myself in those moments…
Shortly after that, the plane landed safely and everyone was okay.
I had a 1-hour trip ahead of me on the bus from the airport to the city center. I put my headphones on and started listening to the Making Sense of Death episode from Sam Harris podcast. I highly recommend listening to it if you haven't done so yet!
I had a lot of epiphanies on that short trip. Here are a few of them:
We are afraid to die because we believe we haven’t done enough in our life and of the things we still could do. But, this is a false impression as we don’t have a predetermined age we should live to or a goal we should reach before dying.
The Two Choices
We have 2 choices when facing the fear of death:
One is to live our life trying to control every aspect of it in the hopes to flee death at every corner it might show.
Second is to embrace uncertainty, became curious about it and instead of being constantly preoccupied with the fear around death; we should try to become more mindful of the present moment and appreciate every bit of it as we don’t know how much left we got to live.
The 30 Seconds Rule
Imagine that you are dead and you were brought back to this planet for only 5 minutes, no less, no longer. I am certain you will enjoy those 5 minutes to the fullest and be very mindful of your presence. Now imagine you were brought back instead for just 30 seconds. Your presence and attention will be even greater!
Now, next time you experience the fear of death, for example, the plane is going through turbulence in my case. Imagine you were already dead and you got the chance to be brought back to this moment where you are now, alive, for just 30 seconds.
Instead of being afraid, you would experience gratitude for the chance of being alive and for experiencing even the fear of the plane crashing.
Those precious 30 seconds will become so precious to you that you will shift your attention from being afraid of losing that moment, to instead appreciating the gift of experiencing it all again!
In this moment, be mindful of the sunlight touching your skin, the smell and the sounds around you. Maybe you are with your partner or child. Focus on their presence and how it makes you feel. Fear is an emotion that we can only experience while being alive. That in itself is a gift!
Shifting Our Focus
We should all try and focus more on spreading love in each interaction and occasion we have with anyone. Trying to live our life to the fullest and truly living every single moment instead of anticipating death all the time.
This is a lesson for me too and I am a WIP being!
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