It is ironic that from the earliest days of our cognizant lives, we are programmed to fear its end. Especially, the last five minutes.
This entire notion, this ripe fear and in many cases dread, is preposterous. We have no idea where we came from, and why we arrived in the world, but we are certain that in death we are leaving it. That it represents an end. Finality.
How is it that we admit to looking backwards to our arrival on earth with no knowledge but look forward to our departure with great certainty? A certainty that has no basis. No founding. It is mindful of our predecessors who were convinced that if they sailed into the horizon, they would fall off the face of the earth.
Little did they know that the truth was the polar opposite: that they could sail into the horizon for eternity.
The fact is we are preoccupied with living a long life when life as we know it is never long. If we live 100 years, it is but a blip. And to complicate matters, but to introduce an essential reality. Whose life was longer, Mozart’s or Jane Smith, who died at 98 after a 60-year career as an insurance actuary. And who hated her work from the moment she left college and took a seat in her cubicle at Homestead Life Insurance Co.?
We have a monumental choice before us all: to be in the life fulfillment business-meaning we live every day without concern for when it ends, if it does, or to be in the life protection business-meaning we spend nearly every day seeking to postpone or circumvent the inevitable.
All too many people do the latter. And in the process, they waste so much of the joy of being alive on this earth. They seek safety. They run from risk. They make sure not to work too hard. They are sticklers about having balance in their lives, whatever that means. They look askance at those who burn the candles at both ends, walk the high wire without a safety net. Start companies with their life savings. Quit “good” jobs for careers that bring them joy. Abdicate the throne to marry a lover.
The only way to truly live, to achieve success as a manager, artist, factory worker, actor, CEO, mother, father, friend-is to do it with abandon. Without fear of when it will end. The more you try to control the ending, the less control you have over it. It won’t ask for your permission. It won’t ask for your timetable. It will just end. Nothing you can do will stop it.
And that’s the good news. You can let go. It’s out of your hands. And even better, the last five minutes here may be the countdown to forever.
How do you live your life before your five minutes are up?
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