My husband and I officially finished our wills yesterday. Signed, notarized, done! I am embarrassed to admit that it was two weeks shy of the two years prior mark when we first started the proceedings. Thankfully we have a very patient lawyer.
While the finalizing everything wasn’t hard, it was similar to the recent house re-fi we did (sign here, sign there, initial here, etc.) I found the rest of the will-making-proceedings to be quite difficult. Not so much the “who gets what” part (we don’t really own anything of value besides the house) but the realization that no matter how much we don’t want to acknowledge it, we’re mortal and death is coming at some point for all of us. Yikes!
I’m not sure about this, but I believe other cultures around the world look at death as simply a part of life. They mourn their dead, and grieve the loss, but it seems like they accept it as a fact and not something to be spoken about in hushed tones or fought off at all costs. That seems like a healthy way to look at it I think, because the fact that death is inevitable is true for every single human being on this planet.
What’s sad for me is the finality of it. I realize that sounds silly, but for so many things in our lives – mistakes we make, things we do that we regret, goals that we shot for and missed – we get a do-over. We get to try them again and see if we can get them right this time around. But when we die, that’s it, no more doing over, no more trying anything new, no more words said that we should have said, no more doing anything, no matter how much more we might want to do.
But what I realized yesterday was this: I can choose to look at certain death with fear and sadness and denial, OR, I can look at its inevitability as the impetus for going after my dreams with everything I’ve got and making sure I live my life with every bit of happiness I can. Because why the heck not? They say that life is not a dress rehearsal and that is so true. Every single day we get to be alive is a gift and we can make anything out of that gift we want.
I know so many people who make it their mission in life to see the worst, to complain about everything bad going on, and who put down the people who are happy and show it outwardly. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been somewhere laughing and having a great time with others, only to have someone turn to us and say with disdain, “You guys are having way too much fun over there.” To which I would ask, is it possible to have too much fun? I’ve been ridiculed for my laugh – which some people call delightful and infectious – but others have called it, to my face, “annoying,” “way too loud,” and the one that comes complete with a frown and an eye roll: “Ugh, that LAUGH.”
Since when is laughter something to be hidden away or ashamed of? Has any human being said on their deathbed, “If only I had laughed less?” For that matter, has anyone come to the end of their life and wished they had spent more of it miserable, angry, or unhappy?
It’s no fun thinking about dying, especially when we’ve lost loved ones whose presence we still miss. But if we give it a thought here and there, the reminder that our time alive is finite and precious, it can get us out of our own heads and stop the endless loop of what could be playing there that limits us in our scope and talks us out of pursuing our lifelong goals.
Recognizing our own mortality is also good for silencing the voice that convinces us to put our dreams on hold or to save our happiness for later. How many times have we told ourselves things like, “When I get that great job/find my soul mate/hit a goal weight/move to this location, THEN I’ll be happy?” As if this one external thing will magically make everything fall into place and secure our happiness forever. That never works. The only way to have happiness be a constant in our lives is to consciously choose it every moment that we can.
We don’t get a choice about dying, but we do get to choose how we live. Choose happiness.