“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes my life is an epitome of success.
However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.
At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and
wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.
You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.
Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – ‘Life’.
Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.
As we grow older, and hence wiser, we slowly realize that wearing a $300 or $30 watch – they both tell the same time…
Whether we carry a $300 or $30 wallet/handbag – the amount of money inside is the same;
Whether we drive a $150,000 car or a $30,000 car, the road and distance is the same, and we get to the same destination.
Whether we drink a bottle of $300 or $10 wine – the hangover is the same;
Whether the house we live in is 300 or 3000 sq. ft. – loneliness is the same.
You will realize, your true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world.
Whether you fly first or economy class, if the plane goes down – you go down with it….”
These are the last words from Steve Jobs, reportedly.
I return to this same theme often in my thinking and writing: this life is short. We put so much energy into it, and we act often as if our time on this Earth will continue indefinitely, but it won’t. It doesn’t matter how accomplished, wealthy or powerful a person is, death is inevitable.
The recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain, the famous cook, food connoisseur and TV personality, and fashion designer, Kate Spade, are reminders that health, wealth, fame and influence do not satisfy our deepest longings and do not provide sufficient meaning or purpose in life to overcome depression. Many very wealthy and influential people have taken their own lives, suggesting that having everything a person might desire in the material world still leaves us lacking. So what is the point of life?
I have experienced an awful lot of dying in my world recently. People that I know, friends and family of people that I know, one after another, many people in my world are dying lately.
Frankly, from the moment we are born, we begin to die. This isn’t a pleasant thought, but this is where my head is going as I read my Facebook feed, offering condolences, prayers and thoughts, one after another.
Our cells begin to die off from the moment we are born. Sure, they regenerate. Our cells die off and regenerate throughout our lives. As our lives go on, however, the dying process speeds up, it picks up in intensity, the dying outpaces the regeneration and it results, eventually, in our natural deaths… if something doesn’t kill us sooner.
It could be depressing to think about. On the other hand, it is natural. This is the way it is.
Why do we even care?
Really, why does death bother us so much? Does my dog think about dying?
If death is simply a fact, a matter of life, a natural phenomenon, what’s gotten into our heads about it? How do we explain our preoccupation with death?
A rather candid article, 2016 Is Not Killing People, got me thinking today. The article picked up on the various social media comments ruing the celebrities we have lost in 2016, looking forward to 2017, as if 2017 will be any better. Being equally as candid as the article – It won’t be.
The article focuses on the notorious drug use of some iconic celebrities that we lost in 2016. Prince. George Michael. Princess Leia (I mean Carrie Fisher). They all had issues with drug addiction that likely played a key role in their relatively early deaths.
I say relatively early death because just one hundred years ago, and for hundreds of centuries before that, people didn’t live as long, on average, as we do today. Death has always, faithfully done its job. Our experience with death may not be what it was in years gone by, but the inevitably of death has never been more (or less) present.
We not only live longer, but we have more distractions from the stark realities of life than ever before. Drugs, ironically, are among those ubiquitous distractions that characterize our modern lives, the same drugs that led to the early demise of many notable celebrities in 2016.
Not all distractions shorten our lives, of course. Some of them, like fitness, running and similar crazes are likely to prolong our lives. We might squeeze another 10, 20 or more years out of our lives. Maybe, if we have the right distractions, we might live to be 100. Maybe even slightly older.
These familiar phrases from 1 Corinthians. 15:55 (quoting Hosea 13:14) jumped out at me as I read them again. Of course, I know that God has swallowed up death in victory through the resurrection of Jesus Christ! But, what does that really mean for us?
“Judgment” is a dirty word by modern standards. Though we make judgments about many things every day, the modern ethic of tolerance demands that we shy away from judgment. For that reason, people have a hard time with the Old Testament. Continue reading “Judgment, Fear and Wisdom”→