The Reality of Mortality

3 12 2010

I had the unfortunate experience of attending a funeral yesterday.  This was one of those horrible unexpected funerals.  To fill you in a bit on the story, a friend and fraternity brother from college, who was a couple years younger than me, was involved in a motorcycle accident this past weekend.  To be brutally honest he was being reckless.  I won’t go into all the details because frankly they don’t matter much for the point of this post, so we will just leave it at that.

In reality, him and I weren’t best friends.  We were friends though.  I’ve played golf with him, I’ve hung out with him, I was one of his pledge trainers in the fraternity.  He was a good guy who always had a smile on his face and was always ready to have a good time.  I didn’t see him often, but it was always a good experience when I did.

As tragedies often do, this ordeal set me to thinking about life and pondering the realities of this world.  Last night I came to the conclusion that there are two very important lessons that can be learned from his death.

The first lesson to be learned is that we need to live everyday like it might be our last.  I know it’s cliche but it’s true.  This guy knew how to have a good time.  He was very aggressive in “grabbing life by the horns” and “seizing the day.”  We all need to live a little more like that I think.  Life really is very fragile and can be taken on a moments notice.  It could be like this friend who stepped over the line into the realm of recklessness, or it could be as simple as slipping on ice covered stairs.  It could also be like my dear friend Chris, who was also taken at such a young age 11 years ago, by falling asleep behind the wheel.  All things great and small carry a risk of taking our lives, but we cannot surrender to the fear of death.  We need to be a little more like this friend and stare that risk in the face and refuse to back down.  We are blessed with life, and we should feel duty-bound to live it to it’s full potential.

The second lesson is a bit of a contrast to the first.  While we should be living everyday to it’s fullest we must also have a healthy fear of our mortality.  Although we should refuse to succumb to the paralyzing fear of death we should also understand that when we take risks there are potential consequences for our actions.  We still must remain prudent and cautious in our actions.

There is a delicate balance to maintain in life.  The ambition to live life with excitement must be weighed against the potential consequences and repercussions of those actions.  The balance of those factors is really up to each individual person to decide though.  This friend chose to weigh the ambitious exciting side more than the cautious prudent side, and he unfortunately had to pay the ultimate price.  On the other hand, how miserable would we be if we refused to find any joy in life because we couldn’t surmount the idea that we might die?

All I know is this: We are given this life, and we should not be afraid to live it.  Are you living life heedless and foolhardy?  Or are you too frightened and guarded?  I leave you with one quote because I think it’s perfectly on point, and I think this friend who has passed lived it to the extreme.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life.
A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
~Mark Twain

 

You will be missed, brother.  Thanks for these lessons.

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3 responses

3 12 2010
quarterlifeconfused

Great thoughts about the fine line. I’m sorry for your loss.

3 12 2010
Mom

Very well written and profound. Sorry for your loss but congrats on a very good lesson.

3 12 2010
Dena Donnell

I didn’t know about this…I’m so sorry. 😦

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