By Larry Feinstein
When I hit my early 40s, that trauma came home to roost. I left my predictable life in New York City and hit the road for Santa Fe, New Mexico. My solo drive cross-country felt like a rebirth; my little Dodge Colt serving as an earthbound spaceship on a journey of self-discovery. The death of my father came back to life, the early loss maturing into a gift. Slowly, I had begun to understand both the unpredictability of life and its finite nature.
For most of us, death is an abstract concept and we like it that way. Reframing our lives, bookended by birth and death, is a game changer. I think living with death is incredibly liberating and anything but depressing. It doesn’t mean you immediately have to throw out all your clothes, only wear black, piercing your body and becoming a nihilist, believing in absolutely nothing. Quite the opposite, it turns our lives into a celebration, investing us in the moment, this precious moment.
Denial of death is a diet for procrastination. Our inaction bloats us with unfinished business, words unspoken and feelings unexpressed. All that matters is this life. The concepts of Heaven and Hell, the spirit world and reincarnation don’t matter to me at all. They are distractions that allow far too much latitude, keeping us from taking care of business today in this life.
Some of you have just survived the holiday depression of the year past, and some of you have made resolution for this New Year. The namesake of January is Janus, derived from the ancient Roman religion. He is the god of beginnings and transitions, a two-faced icon, looking into the future and back at the past. Buddha said, “It is better to spend one day contemplating the birth and death of all things than a hundred years never contemplating beginnings and endings.”
The worst part of all is having no idea when our time is up. It is the great unknown and completely out of our control. Whether rich or poor, short or tall, young or old, time will catch up with all of us. While others would argue, I believe it is completely arbitrary and a so-called good life scores no points in this game, any more than evil behavior hastens the grand finale. Death is not fair and that’s how it is.
When we attach our actions to outcome, we lose our way. We are already living in Heaven, a shocking revelation and there isn’t a minute to spare. If you think of your life as a movie, as the writer, director, star and audience, what would you want to see on the screen? Every one of us is endowed with this freedom. At anytime, we can dim the lights and shout “action”.
Imagine if all of us understood the undeniable truth of beginnings and endings, the cycle of all life? The giant redwoods in northern California, the thousand-year old olive trees in the desert of Israel and Palestine, all face the same fate as you and I. The falsehood of a limitless life is behind our destruction of the environment. It is inconceivable to us that we will run out of anything, including time. Humility and compassion will light our path once we embrace the temporary nature of the world of matter.
Societies are nothing more than a reflection of its citizens. Our country hoards power, driven by greed and a complete disregard for the inherent value of all life. The mind-boggling chasm between rich and poor reflects our disconnection from each other. We will all suffer the same fate as the poor and powerless among us, yet we wage thoughtless wars against them because they are easy, disposable targets. The dream of immortality is a nightmare in the hands of the powerful.
Our only true possession is the time we have been afforded in this life and that is all. It is the one thing we all have in common and rather than bringing all of us closer together, it acts as a wedge that drives us apart.
Well, the Dodge Colt got me to my destination, but the voyage had only begun. It is many years later and the start of another New Year on Kaua‘i. I appreciate beginnings and endings more than ever. My own dance with time continues for now. I extend my hand and my heart to you in 2015, with the hope that your dance continues until the music stops; increasing your appreciation for this temporary privilege we share.
- Larry Feinstein has spent a lifetime in marketing and wondering what we’re all about. Share your dreams mindandthemotorcycle.com. Let’s create dialogue.