Maybe it’s because they think death happens only to others?
It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s cancer or abrupt climate change or if it’s a heart attack versus nuclear annihilation. Those things seem only to impact others – not ourselves, even if we are deeply concerned about them. As author Stephen Jenkinson highlights throughout his book, Die Wise, everyone dies, except us of course. When death comes calling for us we are shocked.
I wake up nearly every single day with a clean pallet.
My days are completely mine. I’m married and still most of my time is exactly that; my time. This is how I define freedom in my own life … time. Time to do exactly what I want when I want to do it. I don’t live a life dominated by expectations. I don’t live in the land of should. The shackles of expectations are alive and well in the land of should. We should get an education. We should get a job. We should get married. We should have children. We should buy a home. We should have a plan for retirement. We should have healthcare insurance. We should have a good credit score. We should never question any of this. The list of expectations is endless and we remain incarcerated by them. Accepting our death is the only way to break free from these expectations. Unfortunately we never expect it to come our way so we remained trapped.
I like to think of myself as someone who is okay with death being part of life.
I’m not looking forward to dying but I know I will not likely grow old and die of natural causes because I am cognizant of the fact that our way of life is not sustainable and will eventually, and possibly quite soon, collapse and end human life on this planet. I know that expectations are for the self-inflicted. This knowledge or consciousness has led to a life of simplicity and contentment.
I received my education. I got married, but then something changed.
My wife and I decided we didn’t want children. We didn’t want to own a home. We no longer wanted jobs. This of course led to not having healthcare or much of a retirement plan. During the first few years of shattering people’s expectations we were often asked how long we were going to live this way. People treated it like a phase or experiment. When we informed them we had no desire to return to our previous living arrangement confusion became apparent. If you really know you’re going to die, I mean really know, then taking the steps we’ve taken doesn’t seem odd but instead, completely sane. What everyone one else is doing is odd. Actually, what everyone else is doing looks insane.
When I woke this morning I wrote this essay because it came to me last night in a conversation I had with others who have taken the same steps my wife and I have taken. Plus I had nothing else I wanted to do. I then went for a run. Then I moved around some lumber for a project. Then I checked my email. Then I ate lunch. Then I sat on my ass because it was too hot to do much of anything else. Then I went to a lecture. Then I watched some Netflix. Then I went to bed. What’s beautiful is my wife and I spend most of our days together and nearly everything is done on our own terms. We’re not adherent to an employer, a mortgage, children, debt, a credit score, or a home owners association. Why? Because we know we’re going to die.