If you’re not ready to die, then how can you live?


Last few days I was searching for an answer, not to one question, but several unconnected questions.

It all started with a discussion with my colleague on Steve Job’s renowned speech at Stanford University. With twinkle in eyes, my colleague read out Steve’s words,

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

And I asked myself, is it really possible to live every day as if it is the last? Would fear of death give meaning to our life and existence?

However much I thought, I couldn’t come up with any answer.

*****

Few days later, I was having lunch with friends and out of the blue, the talk turned towards what we would like to be born as in the next birth. Now you might be wondering if my second question is about rebirth. It is not about whether there is a rebirth or not, but what we want to be if there is a rebirth.

I was kind of surprised that most of us (including me) did not want to be born as humans and let alone be themselves, if given a choice to be reborn.

That left me with the next question. Are all humans dissatisfied with their life?

Are we not living our life to the fullest or perhaps on average do most of the humans fail to achieve goodness (Yeah, don’t you think greatness is little overrated? As Jim Collins said, even I believe that Good to Great is a long journey. )

By now I was trying to connect too many dots and at the end of it, as you guessed I still don’t have any answers. Leave the answer; I don’t even have a faint clue on what could possibly be the answer.

The more I thought, the more I got confused. (Am literally shaking my head, while typing this)

*****

I opened my inbox to find invite for the Chinese Business Culture training. Wow, Chinese that is exactly what I want, right now. This whole life seems like Greek and Latin to me. Would Chinese make any difference, let us see.

I say Ni hao (Hello) to the trainer and he does the brilliant job of compressing years and years of rich culture, moulded by thousands and thousands of human interactions into capsules for us to swallow.

I try, but choke at some Mandarin words: Guanxi, Mianzi, Ganbei and more.

Before I could come up with a question to add to the confusion, trainer calls me to do charades on a Chinese saying- Fortune does not come twice. Misfortune does not come alone.

Trainer tells us that this saying has its roots in the concept of Yin and Yang, the theory of polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces, which are entwined, yet dependent on each other and give rise to each other in turn. So for every misfortune that we come across, a fortune is awaiting its turn.

This time I tried to connect the dots, my thoughts forms a shape. But I still do not have any concrete answers to all the questions.

*****

Perhaps like Taoism says we need polar opposites to gain a balance in life. To live life at its best, we often need to be reminded of death. May be at the face of death, we would learn to appreciate life more. If we see Life and Death as a continuum, rather than as means to an end, maybe we could do justice to this birth and the very existence on earth.

May be yes, may be no. I still don’t have answers, but have finally decided to put a stop to these random musings.

I turn back to Steve Jobs for a solution and his words echoes: Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.

One thing I know for sure amidst all this uncertainties is that in this quest called Life, I will tumble on the answers. My journey doesn’t begin here, but it continues.

*****

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8 thoughts on “If you’re not ready to die, then how can you live?”

  1. Our satisfaction levels are determined by our wants. And definitely a person with good control over his wants will be more satisfied with his life.
    And yes, you understand the value of life when you are reminded of death – Most of us work at a pace defined by our timelines, isn’t it?

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  2. I think we don’t have to bother about death. Of course it’s inevitable..
    It is bound to happen at it’s time and we don’t have to live just because we born here.
    It may be true that we can do well once we reminded about the death… Probably the sense of loosing something make us to do so. I don’ know really…

    But I don’t believe, we need to think about it if we are taking each moment to count… Somebody thankful for each moment gifted to them, need not be worried about death.. They will continue to do good…

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  3. Perhaps, the question itself has being on a tangential note. For living ,one doesnt needs to die. What one requires is an appreciation of the present and living in the present. It’s like if you are climbing a mountain, you dont think about the mountain top, rather the experiencing the journey of climbing the mountain, which provides the ultimate satisfaction. It’s the same with life.

    Bottomline, Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish! while living your life.

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  4. Death is the King of this world.It is his park where he breeds life to feed him.Let the world slide,let the world go.And death makes equal the high and low.Good writing.

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  5. You know everyting is a farce, but pretend it is not. That’s LIFE. When you are tired of this game and call it quits, you are ready to GO.

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  6. 🙂 nice post shruthi! Wise men have always seen life with a sense of urgency – its a mystery, when your plug is pulled out. Don’t mistake me for being a pessimist. I’ve just come to look reality squarely in the face. Agreed its all easy to preach, but immensely potent when practised, as is seen from Jobs’ life.

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  7. Good One : a thought about life increases pace of life whereas thought about death will decreases it. if rebirth is gonna be there or not but we shall not know that we have reborn after death :). if we got know also we cant claim what we have earned / stored in previous life. better we think about today and this life alone.

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