“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”
Prince just died. People are shocked and saddened, they are covering their social media personas with purple and sharing their favorite ‘Little Red Corvette’ and ‘Purple Rain’ moments. It’s nice. I am sure if Prince was alive he would be very moved by the outpouring of love and sadness from his fans. What doesn’t sit very well with me is the outpouring of disbelief, the ‘can you believe it’ sentiment that seems to pervade their collective emotion.
Death is no surprise. When it will occur is the great unknown for each of us and it is interesting how our attitude and acceptance of this certainty affects so much how we live our lives. There are those who move cautiously through life; assessing risk at every turn and always making sure their insurance is up to date. Then there are those who jump into the great unknown of adventure with a sense of inner assurance that they will learn to unfold their wings as they fall.
It is the deaths of the bold that we find it so easy to mourn, their passing a reminder of our own mortality. In Rajasthan, India there is a gypsy tribe that celebrates death as one of the happiest events in their lives, while treating births with great grief. What do they know that we don’t? How would you live your life differently if you knew when you were going to die? If you could confirm what was waiting for you on the other side, would you make different choices now?
Of course the goal of being alive is to live full lives with meaningful connection. I heard that if you die in Amsterdam without any friends or family left to attend your funeral, a poet will write a poem for you and recite it at your funeral. Lovely! We should all have poetry read at our funeral.
There is a difference between being reckless and bold. I think the challenge of living is to walk the tightrope between the two, preferably from a high building. May we all be bold enough to revel in this incredible experience and in the wise words of one who was so bold, ‘to get through this thing called life’.
See you in July,