"Thou ougthst in every action and thought so to order thyself as if thou wert immediately to die." - St. Thomas a Kempis; Imitation of Christ
Death. We all know we must face it one day. And yet you are most likely just as I; a person to whom death seems so very far off. So distant. So far away.
For some perhaps this is true but for others death is very near. In the scope of eternity, death is near for all. How is it then that we all live as if death cannot touch us?
An ancient Greek philosopher by the name of Seneca wrote a work called, "On the Shortness of Life" dealing with this very issue. Don't you say it to your friends all the time, "Man, life is too short." Indeed. How can it be that you and I know this and yet we live as if death does not exist?
I believe in part it is a safety mechanism for survival. If we were to contemplate death constantly it could cripple us and render what life we do have as not worth living in the first place. However, to never contemplate death poses its own problems. Let me explain:
If you fail to contemplate death, you might believe that a proverbial "second chance" to make things better will always follow. A "second chance" to say "I'm sorry" to your wife or husband. A "second chance" to stop working so much and sit down with your child and read them a book. The warrior knows that this "second chance" will one day cease to come. One day, there will be no more chances. No more chances for "I'm sorry", "I love you", or "I miss you". Thus, the good warrior treats all moments as if they are to be his last.
This all seems rather grim but I assert that all depends on your perspective. As I wrote in Chapter 8 of my book, Warrior Attitude: 21 Ways to Think and Act Like a Warrior That Will Transform Your Outlook on Life: "Keeping death constantly before your eyes serves to motivate rather than demotivate."
How is this so? Let me share with you how I see it. If you view each moment and each task as the last time you will ever do that thing, it becomes almost sacred. In truth, every moment we live shall occur only once. We may watch the same movie more than once or eat the same food on many days but each occurrence of that thing is a singular moment that can never be repeated.
Just imagine how your life would change if you viewed each moment with your loved ones as the last time you would see them. How would you treat them? If you envisioned each day at work as your last, how would you work and how would you treat your co-workers or employees(ers)?
For some reason, it is not easy for human beings to stay in this frame of mind very long. We must continually remind ourselves of it. It is a worthwhile task however. For all the minutia becomes more meaningful and it instantly brings you clarity and perspective about what truly matters.
A warrior does his best to live each moment as if he shall die immediately after. If you are unaccustomed to this way of thinking, I implore you to give it a try. When you wake up the next morning and get ready to go to work, actively picture in your mind and maybe even say out loud to yourself: "If this is the last time I shall ever go to work, how do I want to work my last? If this is the last time I shall ever see my co-workers and friends, how do I wish to treat them? If this is the last time I'll kiss my wife goodbye and pat my children on the head as they get up for school, how shall I kiss my wife and how shall pat my children’s heads?” Just think how greatly you would savor each of those moments if you truly convinced yourself that you would never experience them again?
My fellow warrior, do not deceive yourself that you will live forever. No one has conquered time and none ever will. You have then two choices it seems: Go all your life pretending you are immortal and face death with an unready spirit or accept your mortality and prepare to die well.
I leave you with this story my warrior: Once, a long time ago, there lived a holy hermit. His whole life he contemplated death and reminded himself that one day, the Lord would call him home. It came to pass that at the hour of his death, he was beaming with joy. A friend asked him, "How is it that you are so joyful when you shall soon be dead?" The hermit replied, "I have always kept death before my eyes; and therefore, now that it is come, I see in it nothing new."
Live and die in the battleground,
Alexander Lanshe Sensei
P.S. News will be release soon about my upcoming 2nd book. Keep your eyes posted for a special website dedicated entirely to the book and it's promotion. There are many major announcements to make regarding this book and I am very excited to share them with you.
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National Speaker, author, blogger, and life-long student of warrior arts and science.