When You Die

Just this afternoon, while taking my regular stroll down to Niantic Bay, half to prevent heart disease and diabetes, half to take in the sites of my beautiful seaside town, I ran into a protester set up near the corner of Hope Street and Pennsylvania Ave–poetic. She had a table and several large signs instructing us to “impeach Obama.” Some of the pictures depicted Obama with Adolf Hitler’s mustache. I paid no mind and strolled on, my cause much more impressive than hers.

I’m glad I saw her, though, because the second I walked by that table and saw those signs, I knew I was going to blog about them. I just didn’t know why. This gave me something to ponder while I walked and listened to The Offspring on Pandora. And this is what I came up with.

There’s one thing that we all have in common that transcends all the other commonalities and differences. I could wax poetic about us all sharing the environment, all needing love, all having insecurities, or I could talk about the violent split in our society between various political and religious beliefs. But those similarities and differences aren’t nearly as important as the one thing that has always been, and always will be, the great equalizer.

We are all going to die.

When I see those guys you all label as crazy standing in the middle of the sidewalk in New York City with signs proclaiming “The End is Near,” I can’t help but see the truth to that. Near is a relative term. Each of us are pretty close to our end the moment we’re born. Add to that the chance of instantaneous death and dismemberment from countless different diseases, accidents, and tragedies that can take a life at the drop of a hat, and it might be nearer than you think.

The point?

Set aside religious ideals on this one, and just humor me with a philosophical exercise here. Let’s pretend that right at the moment of death, you literally do have your life flash in front of your eyes. Only imagine your life flashed before you on a spreadsheet broken down into categories, each minute accounted for. Think about that. What would that spreadsheet show? It doesn’t really happen like this, but it doesn’t mean your life cannot be measured in just this way.

How many minutes did you spend worrying about what someone else thought? How many minutes did you spend causing others to hurt? How many minutes did you spend bringing more hate into the world? How many minutes did you spend making others feel inferior just so you could put a bandage over the wounds of inferiority others had inflicted upon you?

I know I for one am not comfortable with my estimates.

Now how many minutes did you spend making others feel better about themselves? Feeling good about yourself? Enjoying the little things in life? Guiding a misguided youth? Showing others how to love so they can spread it like a happy disease? How many minutes did you actually do something worth while? Read a book? Write one? Smile at a stranger? Breathe fresh air? Appreciate the beauty of nature? Think thoughts nobody else has thought before? Think thoughts others have thought but in your own way? Wondered why? Did just what you wanted no matter what society thought?

It seems with such a short amount of time on Earth, we should be ashamed of how much time we waste on things that don’t matter. I know I am. And just imagine when you look at a world that you can barely stand because of all the hatred, division, and greed festering in it, that some of your precious minutes have actually been spent adding little droplets of hatred, division, and greed to the ocean we are now drowning in. You helped make this. I helped make this. With so little time, we chose to spend some of our minutes creating what we’re hating.

I’m glad I walked by that table without confronting or questioning her. I’m glad I continued on enjoying the scenery, thinking deep thoughts, listening to good music, and getting exercise to help increase my minutes on Earth. Why add to the hatred? Why add to the division? Why waste my time?

I’m sure there was something much more important she could have been doing with hers.

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