A Good Day To Die

I had a bit of a fright on the way home from the airport this morning. Driving home after dropping off my wife and daughter for their early morning flight to North Carolina, a truck suddenly pulled into the lane in front of me. No damage done, just a few extra quick heartbeats. But it did catalyze an interesting question – from an evolutionary perspective.

Am I ready to die?

Sure, it sounds a bit morbid, but hear me out on this one. The question was not if I wanted to die. I certainly do not want to die quite yet: I’m rather enjoying this physical experience. The question addressed whether I was prepared to depart this physical form at this time. In other words, if today is my day to die, could I do so with a feeling of completeness and acceptance?

Some Native American warriors, before entering battle, would say a prayer: “Today is a good day to die.” This was not a death wish, but rather, an acknowledgement of death as a continuation of life and recognition of and desire to tap into the powerful intuitive perceptions that come from their non-physical essence.

I suppose that anytime you drive on the freeway you are entering a battlefield of sorts. And while I did not offer a prayer welcoming death before I began my drive home, the adrenalin that poured through me after the truck incident awakened that same sense of nerve-tingling anticipation.

This question, “am I ready to die, has arisen before often with no clear answer. The last clear answer came, not coincidentally, during Melissa and Ella’s last trip without me. At that time, over a year ago, the answer was a resounding “no!”

The sticking point, back then, was the prospect of never seeing my daughter again. Ella was not yet walking and the thought of missing her first, tentative steps opened a deep well of grief. That grief cascaded outward, projecting scenes of her future that I would miss: Her first attempts at sentences with juxtaposed words and dropped consonants, the anxiousness I would feel about her first dating experiences, driving her to college and helping her move into her dorm-room, handing her off to her future husband. Each of these scenes flashed through my mind, leaving me in tears at the prospect of missing these and so many other poignant moments.

Today, however, my response to the question was quite different. Instead of a welling up of grief, there was a long moment in which I deeply and effortlessly connected with the joy that I have already experienced. In that moment I felt complete. And, in that moment of completeness, I was able to answer, truthfully, that “yes” I was ready to die.

This completeness was an awakening for me. It was not based on having done or accomplished anything. Rather, it was based on my ability to be in a feeling space of acceptance and peace. As I held the question, “am I prepared to die,” in my mind, I was, for that brief, but intensely powerful moment, able to accept that the joy and love I have experienced has been enough.

As I write this, it seems somewhat less significant. And perhaps as you read this, the words will lack the profundity that I felt. But in that moment, driving up I-80, it felt big. I understood, perhaps for the first time, that the peacefulness for which I have been searching has nothing to do with what I have accomplished, or who I know, or how much money I have in the bank. That feeling of peacefulness is based solely on my ability to feel present and complete in each moment.

When I feel complete I am complete. It is that simple.

On the way home, I went for a pre-dawn hike at one of my favorite Marin County trails. Along the way I stopped to sit and absorb the silence and beauty around me. Bubbling up from within the silence arose a sense of how much energy it takes to monitor and maintain my physical body.

When I am “attached” to this life, or in a space where I feel the “need” to stay alive, I invest a great deal of energy to ensure that life in this physical body continues. Most of this energy is unconscious, and yet clearly comprises a large percentage of my overall life energy expenditure.

It was equally clear that all of that energy is wasted. My body knows how to take care of itself with little or no input from me. In fact it knows how to take care of itself far better than I do and my attempts to improve upon what it does best end up causing more harm than good.

Consider for a moment how much these physical bodies can take. They are like Timex watches: They take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.’ How incredible is it that these bodies can survive and recover from car crashes, falls, fights. Think of the self-imposed damage they can withstand from eating unhealthy food, ingesting toxins, and not exercising.

The life force that flows through our bodies is strong and requires no prompting or direction from our minds.

Life desires life!

Our bodies are the physical expression of our non-physical form. They are life and they desire more of it. We don’t have to “do” anything to monitor, ensure or improve upon the state of our bodies.

If, instead of continually trying to ensure our physical survival, we just got out of the way, our bodies would show us how perfectly suited they are to life in this physical environment. They would, if we let them, show us what it feels like to truly thrive. And, by letting go of our need to constantly take care of our bodies, we would gain a huge chunk of extra energy to invest in other areas of our life.

So, is today a good day to die? It certainly is a good day to ask the question, “am I ready to die?” For when you are ready to die, you are then truly ready to fully live and to thrive!

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    12 Responses to “A Good Day To Die”

    1. John Wesley on March 2nd, 2007 2:06 pm

      The way I like to think about comes from a poem by Walt Whitman:

      “Do you think you were lucky to be born,
      You will be equally lucky to die.”

      I’m thankful sometimes, to know that there will be an end. Or maybe a new beginning.

    2. Martha on March 6th, 2007 11:50 am

      You spoke of energy to keep our bodies well,and that our bodies know how to do this.
      Our souls need time and energy to prepare for our new life.I think our life here is mostly in preparation for our new life. If I feel prepared for death I am very well prepared to live.God with me always,God be with you all always

    3. Edward Mills on March 8th, 2007 9:51 am

      John. Thanks for the lines from Whitman. I liked them so much I went and found the entire stanza from Song of Myself. Here it is:

      Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born?
      I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
      I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-washed babe, and am not contained between my hat and boots,
      And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and everyone good,
      The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.
      I am not an earth nor an adjunct of the earth,
      I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself,
      (They do not know how immortal, but I know.)
      Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,
      For me those that have been boys and that love women,
      For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted,
      For me the sweetheart and the old maid, for me mothers and the mothers of mothers,
      For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,
      For me children and the begetters of children.
      Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
      I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,
      And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away.

    4. Edward Mills on March 8th, 2007 9:53 am

      Martha. Perhaps our lives here are all about preparing for death. I’m not sure. But I know that, for me, being prepared for death means knowing that I have lived fully.

    5. Fidel on May 15th, 2007 7:49 pm

      Do you believe that the law of attraction applies to death as well? For example, if one thinks about it all the time or even if one desires it, does it happen per the law of attraction?

    6. RubyShooZ on June 11th, 2007 7:24 pm

      I have been closer to facing this question along with my cancer diagnosis and my conclusion is that I want to see my children before I die and they are coming for a much overdue visit on July 1 and I can hardly wait.

      Since I’m not taking the usual fight fight fight stance towards cancer, I have been preparing myself and thinking about what I can do, what I must do and what I am doing presently. I am at peace and once the kids come, (yes, I’m waiting for them) then I’ll be fully prepared.

    7. Edward Mills on June 11th, 2007 7:39 pm

      Fidel.

      Sorry that I missed your comment when it came in. That’s a great question. My short answer is that I think it does. The Law of Attraction applies to everything. But there are so many powerful factors at play when it comes to death that I don’t think there is a direct correlation. As physical beings we have a strong, innate drive to stay alive, so I would imagine it takes quite a bit of focusing on death to attract the physical experience.

    8. Edward Mills on June 11th, 2007 7:45 pm

      RubyShooz:

      I applaud your courage to take the non-traditional route as well as your clarity and conviction in your desire to see your children.

      I do, indeed, sense a deep peace in your words. Congratulations on finding this peace through this experience!

      I recently was able to witness my father-in-law come to a place of peace as he struggled with cancer. It was a wonderful experience to watch his inner peace and light shine more and more brightly as his physical body became weaker.

      I thank you for so courageously sharing your experience with us!

    9. Evolving Times » 16 Personal Development Lessons From Harry Potter on August 16th, 2007 9:45 am

      […] concept to remember. Let’s cut to the chase here. If we think of birth as a beginning and death as an ending it sets up a sense of urgency and a tone of seriousness that we carry through our […]

    10. Patricia - Spriritual Journey Of A Lightworker on August 27th, 2007 10:28 pm

      The deaths of 2 very close friends have made me aware of just how much, I need to tell my loved ones that I love them every day. You never know when it will be your last or theirs.

    11. Edward Mills on October 2nd, 2007 8:04 pm

      Patricia. Isn’t it interesting that it takes the presence of death in our lives to get us to fully appreciate our lives and loved ones. That awareness and appreciation is really a “gift” that death brings to us.

    12. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker on October 20th, 2007 6:27 am

      My belief is that out of every bad situation, there is a gift of good. As with life, that is true of death. I am enjoying catching up and reading all of the blog articles that were written while I was gone to India. It is so nice to be home.

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