I’m scheduled to have a procedure in a few hours that requires general anesthesia. Even though it’s a routine procedure, the very slight risk of dying brings up thoughts of death. I don’t think it’s a particularly morbid thing to think about death. Actually, I believe contemplating death can be relatively healthy in the right context.
When I wrote the song “Feel” last year, I was speaking of a philosophical truth related to stepping into one’s creativity, but actually, you can think of that reality as facing one’s mortality as well:
On the precipice
Looking out across the land
In times like these
I want to be a better man
I face my darkest fears
And know what it feels like
To finally live my life
I want to feel the darkness coming
Feel it deep within my bones
That's how I'll fly…
So, in thinking about this reality, it brings back themes that I have written about in the past two weeks…I am not my body. My self is not my body. I am not contained within my body. My self is not contained within my body. Everything that I encounter, everything that seems other than me, is also me. In oneness, the self is everywhere.
It’s counterintuitive, but in prayer, in meditation, you commune with the outer world and the outer world becomes one with your inner world. In acceptance therapy, you learn to become aware of the thoughts you have been pushing away and just to feel comfortable with those emotions. Such is the case with death. To become able to think about our own mortality, to sit with it comfortably and accept it, changes the way we feel in our living. The beauty of the gift of life becomes more acute.
I finished my memoir, Deep Blue Calm, about a decade ago. At the time, I used the term Deep Blue Calm, to refer to the root of depression and the grieving process that comes with losing a good portion of your young adulthood to the struggle of mental illness. The calm came when the feelings of despair ran their course and acceptance washed over me. It’s a similar concept.
It’s natural, especially in the West, to feel like we can escape death. We avoid it and push it out of our minds. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly brought more to the forefront of people’s minds.
Research studies show that contemplation of death can increase creativity in some individuals. It’s really no surprise. Experiencing that duality of life and death as a oneness naturally helps us feel more alive.
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