I Know. It's Not My Most Inspiring Blog Title.
But follow me on this. It's an important topic.
This week my girlfriend and I had to say goodbye to her grandmother, who passed away at the age of 91. The death was not a surprise, as she had been in declining health for the past few years.
Virginia Dean was a spunky, tough, Irish lady. I adored her. She had a sharp sense of humor and an adventurous spirit. And even as she became more confused about her family and surroundings over the last two years (she referred to me as "Glenn" for most of the time I knew her), there was one thing that she was hyper-aware of right down to the end.
After she passed, I stood over her physical shell to pay my respects and I noticed that her fingernails were impeccably manicured. Each nail was covered with a beautiful peach polish, freshly applied just days before she crossed over. On the table beside the bed was an eyebrow pencil. She would have someone color them in each morning.
What is fascinating is that as her dementia became worse, she would often confuse her children for her parents. She would believe that she had spent the previous night traveling across India. Yet, the one think that she was certain about were her beauty rituals and the need to "look presentable."
And while taking pride in our appearance is not a bad thing, I had a revelation as I stood in that room.
We are a culture that is obsessed with avoiding aging. And what is really under that desire is a fear of our own mortality.
We spend thousands of dollars on anti-aging creams, facials, botox, and cosmetic procedures. We waste hours upon hours obsessing over Instagram, finding the filter that will minimize our crows feet or hide the bags under our eyes.
We say things like:
"I can't chase my dreams. What if I try and fail? I would just DIE!"
"I can't allow myself to love. What if I get hurt? The rejection would KILL me!"
"I can't speak my truth. It would KILL my parents/spouse/partner if I told them how I really feel!"
We are so busy avoiding death that we forget to LIVE.
Ultimately, this is a useless strategy. Death is universal. It's the one common experience that every one of us will share. It doesn't discriminate based on race, gender, or economic status. At some point, you and I will pass on.
So shouldn't we be making the most of the precious time that we are given?
And death happens in a variety of ways. It's not just about the death of our physical body. Death can happen metaphorically in the form of a loss of a job, a relationship, a belief systems, or addictions.
But most spiritual texts also teach us that after the death is a rebirth. When something dies, something is born anew. After the winter comes the bloom of spring flowers. After the darkness of night comes a new sunrise.
The same holds true in our life. The job that is making you miserable may very well need to die for a great, purpose-driven career to be born. You don't have to settle for the relationship that isn't fulfilling you. The death of the breakup is only temporary. The belief system that you "aren't enough" has kept you playing small long enough. It's time for a new, empowering belief to be born.
Metaphorical deaths can actually be what you need to push you towards your purpose.
And when you are in those final moments in your physical body, don't you want to know in your heart that you lived fully and openly?
It's not too late. It's never too late to make a change.