Do you fear dying?
I asked myself the question today while doing the dishes. As usually happens for me during the meditative practice of a menial task, my thoughts were playing a gentle game of bumper cars. These thoughts had the overriding theme of fear.
Prior to doing the dishes, I had submitted a photograph to a call for artists for Snap! Orlando. I’ve long been drawn to photography as a viewer. I’ve also occasionally taken a photograph that I thought showed promise and have mulled over learning more about photography, having exhibits, even specific photography centered projects. Interestingly I never considered, as decades whisper past my ears, that I was afraid to try.
My partner noticed sweetgrass laying by my laptop and he inquired about it. I casually mentioned that I had burned sweetgrass before I submitted the photograph, blowing the smoke toward the screen and up to the whoever. He replied that this clearly meant a lot to me; it was one of those moments of gentle exposure that has marked our relationship. He was right.
I’d rather not refer to it as a “bucket list” as the popularity of the term has made the practice seem trite, but I do have such a list. It’s nothing I’ve ever written down, but I have things I regularly think of — let’s be honest with each other: fantasize about — doing, but still haven’t done. The weird thing is, until tonight, I didn’t think of being held back by fear; I simply saw them as things I would do eventually.
I have strived to be an honest person in my life, but I’ve lied. If you’ve managed to traverse this big blue marble and not lied, I’m in awe, but I confess lies have crossed my lips. They’ve ranged from downright hurtful to a simple method of changing the subject, but the single most damaging lie I’ve told in my 46 years is this one to myself. I’ve let my “bucket list” be a “someday list” out of fear.
Tonight, I am declaring war on this fear. There is simply no room for it in my life.
One of my favorite quotes comes from George Bernard Shaw: “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die…” I’ve embraced this a great motto to live my life by, but I realize that in practice it often becomes about simply working my ass off, and less about an effervescent experience.
In the midst of my dishes zen, I began to think of a recent argument of spirituality and for some reason the question popped into my head: Are you afraid to die? I’m certainly not looking to die anytime soon, but I don’t fear death. What I do fear is passing through this life without making the contribution I could have made. — Scottie Campbell