Saturday, 3 November 2012

Death's greatest regret

“The recent Dr Richard Teo video has gone viral. If he is NOT a millionaire or a doctor, will the message be that popular? Probably not. The truth remains to be seen how many people who are wowed by Richard Teo's life, applies the lessons to their own lives.” (From Facebook, Dr Yap).

A wise rejoinder was this: “I think the lesson most learn is, you can always regret on your dying bed.”

And here is my “tediously” longer rejoinder:

I agree, "you can always regret on your dying bed." There is no better wake up call than having one's foot in the casket and one's mind on intestate. The final nail in one's coffin is also the last sail of one's life adventure. Imminent mortality makes for eminent reality. One author mused, "Death is like a rumble of distant thunder at a picnic."

The dying are the best realists and they are also the best counselors. It is as if they had crossed over and saw a better world, which makes this world pales in comparison. They are usually unusually calm, generally unhurried and perfectly balanced. You can tell them the worst of materialistic news like a pending financial downfall or that the creditors are coming to garnish and they will take it all it with unruffled relish. Go figure.

If happiness is about living with a calm measure of contentment and a realistic overview of life, then I guess the depressed are the happiest people in the world, aren't they? They are level headed. They do not overrate their abilities. They keep their feet firmly on the ground. And they are contented with what they have. In other words, they treasure and enjoy what they possess instead of losing sleep over that which they are obsessed about.

As such, maybe it is the relentless optimist that one should be wary of. The buoyancy of spirit is often an exaggerated one - more hot air than is realistically fair. At some point, what gives way to a positive mindset is self-arrogance. The enemy of a realist's goals is therefore an overinflated ego.

So, maybe the value of mortality is inversely proportional to the delusion of self-invincibility. I think the paradox here is clear: To be happy, we are to be reminded of what generally makes us unhappy. To be joyful, we must not forget the apparent joyless things of life, especially the end of it all.

I always ask myself, "What makes for a good life?" Now I realize that it may be a wrong question. I should instead ask: "What makes for a good death?" Changing our life's perspective always changes our mental introspective. If an unexamined life is not worth living for, then I guess it is also not worth dying for.

William Blake once said, "To see the world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower. To hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour."  How's that for a complete reversal of our busy world? How many of us have forgotten the pleasure of a soft peck, the warmth of a hug, the vibrant colors of solitude, the fun in a whistle, and the awe of a sunset? Alas, we spend our life chasing our dreams and make a living nightmare out of it.

Let me end with this puzzle. They say, "Ignorance is bliss." If so, why aren't there more happy people in the world? Maybe it is because this ignorance involves the willful distancing of our fragile life from our unavoidable death. That's why many of us are stressed out nervous wreck. The way I see it is this. I think the opposite of life is not death, it is thinking that we never have to die. Cheers out.

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