A Year in the Death 3/10/21
When I began this series back on January 1, I knew it would be impossible for me to post an article everyday. What I didn’t realize was just how difficult it would be simply to reflect on death everyday.
But I hadn’t counted on life continually getting in the way of death.
I should have expected this.
After all, my leadership and organizational-development consulting business was showing signs of recovering from the 2020 COVID-19 economic slowdown. I was training hard for a number of spring ultra marathons I had registered for. The work on the leadership book I’ve been promising myself to write for years was finally going well. And the typical day-to-day distractions, such as a dead vehicle battery, showed no indications of slowing down.
However, the biggest impediment to this year-long exercise in contemplating death — especially my own — has been my inherent human nature. For as much as I tell myself that I am different than the billions of other homo sapiens currently roaming the Earth, the fact is that I, too, find it convenient to ignore my own mortality.
Yes, I still faithfully engage in my daily Stoic practices, which often focus on the subject of death. But I’ve noticed it’s been far easier to focus that work on topics such as keeping my ego in check, practicing the four Stoic Virtues (Courage, Justice, Temperance, and Wisdom), controlling my emotions and desires…etc., than on contemplating my own mortality.
So, I’m beginning to concede that it’s not life getting in the way of death. It’s death getting in the way of death. More specifically, it’s the natural human fear of death getting in the way of death.
But overcoming that fear was kind of the whole purpose of this year-long activity. Therefore, the journey to better understand death — especially my own — continues. Inconsistent at times…imperfect to be sure…but relentless nevertheless.
Because, ultimately, life never truly can get in the way of death. No matter how much we fool ourselves into believing it can.
This is part of a year-long series I’ve entitled “A Year in the Death.” As I discussed in my first entry on January 1, I am going to contemplate and write about death each day of 2021. Some days, my thoughts and writings may be detailed essays. On others, they may be little more than the contemplation of a quote about death or a piece of art representing death or dying. Also, I may not share every daily contemplation with you, reserving my thoughts to my private journal. But I am committed to the practice and invite you to follow along throughout the course of the year.