The imminence of death & the treasure of daily life

Perhaps the most enduring, humbling yet terrifying occurrence in our world is death. It marks the powerlessness of humans in the midst of the majestic universe. It proves the inescapability of time. And, to relate to my previous post, it is a transition of realms.

A normal man or woman may live around 64 years. Assuming that you are 25, it is already more than a third of your life. Only less than two-third are left. You really don’t have much time. In fact, time is your only luxury.

At the same time, when living the life in a daily basis, the distance between your age now and 64 seems to be quite long. Every morning you wake up, you work, you get caught in the traffic, you get into a conflict, all seems to be endless—you’ve got to do it for so many years! Every now and then you may feel tired, exhausted, bored, drained and you might even wish you could just pause for a moment and be free from all these routine.

But that’s not going to happen. There is no pause in the real life (well, only in games).

Your work will demand more of your time and your responsibility will grow even bigger. Even if you go for a long-dreamt vacation, eventually you will have to get back to the reality. The everyday life. You will have to work again every day.

Yet, the everyday life is where the biggest opportunity lies. Elizabeth Gilbert, on her talk about Success, failure and the drive to keep creating, says that both success and failure catapult us to the same distance. The only difference is in the direction. And both are similarly dangerous. A failure can dump a person to the dark pit of sorrow and despair while a success can destroy a person if it stops him/her from doing what made him/her successful (that could be writing, singing, teaching, etc.). To protect us from these hurricane of outcomes, Elizabeth’s precious advice is for us to find something that we love more than we love ourselves; and to do it every day. That is what she called as home. So every time we are swung by success or failure, we must quickly find our way back home. For her, it is writing. It is her home that keep her safe from the uncertain outcomes that may result. For her, the outcome doesn’t matter. What matters is she writes. Every day.

I completely agree. But it shouldn’t stop there.

If doing what you love most is what anchors you from the uncertainty of outcomes, then what is it that anchors you from the uncertainty of doing what you love?

What is it that anchors you from the uncertainty of doing what you love?

Just like you can succeed or fail by doing what you love, you can also do or not do what you love doing. In other words, if you have to do what you love regardless of success or failure, then what is it that you must do regardless of doing what you love? In yet another words, what is the home of your home? The safest place to be, the most essential thing to do.

For me as a Muslim, my primary task is to pray (shalat), to stand up and pray 5 times a day. Regardless of what I am doing, a day has to be filled with 5-times prayer. Regardless if I am successful or not, I have to perform shalat. It has to be the only constant until the day I die. Because death is certain and imminent, then it has to be prepared by doing something certain and constant too. Something that you (should) love more than what you love doing. Something that you (should) do more persistently than what you love doing. And the preparation for death is not once in a while, the preparation is in every day.