"We do not know where death awaits us:
so let us wait for it everywhere.
To practice death is to practice freedom.
A person who has learned how to die
has unlearned how to be a slave."
-- Michel de Montaigne
A few years ago I started annually celebrating my “Death Day.”
While we know the day we were born, few of us know the day we will die. So, picking a day as my death day was a way to remember that I will die and to remind me to live fully and appreciate each day of life until then. June 17 became my death day as it was half way between birth days.
Last year, I decided that once a year was not enough and began to celebrate the 17th of every month as a day to prepare myself and my stuff for the end of this existence … and a reminder to celebrate the time I have given to me.
Part of today’s activities will be to take care of administrative functions … pick up my health care information package and actually do the paper work of medical directives, etc. Here in Mexico, you need to have a doctor involved, and I’ve finally decided which doctor I want to see, so Monday I’ll make that appointment.
The bigger part of today is to ask myself: If I died tomorrow, what would I be sad about leaving incomplete or undone?
I like the quote above because of the sense of freedom it offers. If I’ve tied up my loose ends physically, emotionally and spiritually, I am free to use my time in whatever ways I choose. Go anywhere, do anything … or not go anywhere and stay home and do nothing.
Whatever I do, I’ve picked one criteria: to connect me more deeply to myself and the world around me. Since connection is an ever-expanding, never-ending process, it will never be “done.” As long as I stay true to that path, there will always be a next-step … and the last step will always be enough. Being grateful for and gladdened by each sunset means there will be no grief when the next transition takes me to a place of no sunsets. Of course, that is an assumption I’m making about the whatever comes next.
One of my favorite quotes from Henry Miller relates to all of this:
The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware ... joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely … aware.
I am human, of course, so I forget all of the above almost every day. That’s why I need a monthly death day … to remind me to be aware of all the beauty, joy, sorrow and pain that surrounds me. If I can do that, when the actual day of passing comes, I will be awash in gratitude for all the gifts that came to me during my life.
Photo for the Miller quote: One of the many beautiful doorways here in Ajijic, Mexico.