To live and enjoy your own life, you have to willingly understand and accept the reality of death.
This photograph of a sweet,relaxed great-grandmother in her nineties was taken by Jane Nannono.
Two weeks ago I retired to bed around 11:00 pm fit as a fiddle. I was happy I had at least completed two of the big tasks I had set out to do that morning. This was a great achievement compared to how things run around here.
To my great shock and surprise, by the time I woke up at 7:30 am the following day, I failed to lift my head off the pillow and my lower back hurt . A quick assessment of the body systems confirmed that I could take a deep breath easily, lift both legs and move them in various directions. I struggled for about fifteen minutes to sit up in bed .This had never happened to me before but then there is always a first time for everything. Finally I got out of bed ,walked to the bathroom and gave myself a long, hot soak in the bathtub. It helped to reduce the back pain. Knowing what I had lined up to do on the laptop for the day, I had to take some simple painkillers.
The nagging back pain demanded that I made an appointment to see a surgeon before the end of the day. By 6:30 pm, the surgeon was giving me a thorough check up then he tried to localize the pain along the vertebral column.It turned out to be muscle pain and we both agreed it had to do with the many frequent trips that I had made to the village during the last three weeks. He prescribed me some pain killers, an inflammatory gel and some physiotherapy exercises. For the following three days, I undertook the physiotherapy exercises but hardly worked on the laptop. I had first to get well to continue with the writing. This is when it hit me that many times we take things for granted: you think you would wake up the following day and get on with your to-do list. The time I spent home reminded me of my mortality and I seized the opportunity to read around life and death. It helped me to appreciate the progress of life from health and vitality in youth to infirmity and weakness in old age.
Life and death are said to be two sides of the same coin. Accepting the inevitability of death helps you create meaning to your own life. Close brushes with death, help you recognize how precious life is and you clearly begin to determine what really matters in life. You learn to give up and let go of everything that no longer serves your life’s journey. From this moment on, you live your life like a marathon runner who begins with the end in mind and then plans the race accordingly. The psychologists also tell us that all the losses suffered in life serve to prepare us for death. So we should learn to die well by developing the ability to accept all life’s losses and disappointments. If we learn this, then we stand a chance of enjoying living our lives.
Mark Twain said: “ A man who lives fully is prepared to die any time.’’
For a few of us, close encounters with death render us so powerless that we give up on life. The psychologists then remind us that what we deny in our conscious minds will possess us. It would take a lot of courage and counselling to get such people to own what owns them. Once they do this, they open themselves up to the possibility of living purposeful lives. They will recognize the greatest irony of life: that death is the source of life.
Kahlil Gibran said: “For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.”
Since then, the back pain has cleared and I have resumed my normal routine. Each time I wake up every morning and I am up and about, I thank God for the gift of life. As every gift has a responsibility attached to it, the gift of life demands that I use the time to become the best person I can be and to do much more for myself and for the common good.
Thank you for reading this post. May it inspire you to live a purposeful life. I would be grateful if you left a comment about it, shared it with family and friends. I would love to learn how close brushes with death transformed your life.