Friedrich Nietzsche put forth a wonderful scenario: “What if a demon were to creep after you one night and say, ‘This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence.” … Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer, ‘Never have I heard anything more divine?’”
How would you answer the nocturnal demon? Simple put, are you living a life you would want to live again, one rich with meaning, connection and joy? Similarly, we may ponder being on our deathbed and wonder if we would have any regrets. This reality check, especially as one enters mid-life, calls for some existential reflection.
A content place to be when our physical time on Earth is done is not to want to cry because our life is over, but to celebrate because it happened. Yet, how many people do you know who could face death with true satisfaction? Could you?
Writer Christopher Morley stated, “There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” We want to move through our life with meaning, insight, and integrity – to ‘step up to the plate’ and courageously face whatever we have been summoned to be.
You want to, as an unknown source advised, “Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, ‘Oh Shit – You’re awake!’” However, our fearful ego often benches us and we never fully show up to our life.
St. Augustine noticed a reluctance to question what is happening as one journeys through life. He stated, “People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
Aware, insightful and curious people ponder their life and how they choose to live it. Others choose not to look, to ask or to face what they might find if they did begin to look. Perhaps they once began and their weakened ego sadly turned in fright. What questions do you avoid asking, perhaps already knowing the answer?
The bottom line is that we each have choices and are ultimately responsible for our life. In her poem, ‘When Death Comes,’ Mary Oliver reflected, “When it is over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument. I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” How will you choose to journey through life?