The common human dilemma is purpose. We seek meaning for life and when there is no significance our motivation duck-dives and hopelessness strangles us.
Paradoxical is our fear; we struggle with enduring the length of our journeys but we never want life to end in our deaths. Both of these realities, the fact of our lives and the imminence of our deaths, are beyond our control. But there is a purpose that captures the essence of both fears, converting negativity into positivity:
“Blessed is he who keeps the moment of death ever before his eyes and prepares for it every day.”
— Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471)
When we interweave the fact of death’s imminence with the existential concern of our lives, we find the best purpose of all. This purpose as our modus operandi, provided it’s kept front of mind, will always mean our lives will have significance.
Death and Truth
Because death is inevitable and so enshrined in truth, when we refuse to deny its inevitability we stand powerfully on the side of truth. If we, therefore, envision that death may occur today, and not in 10,000 days time, we’re profitably restrained by the truth. It captures our focus. It forces us to view our present reality as all we have. It’s all we’ll want to have.
The imminence of our deaths brings the best out in us, if we can get past the morbid curiosity of how our deaths will actually occur. The ‘how’ is not important. The thought of ‘when’ is. Like we’re ever more attentive at the climax of a movie, the whole of our lives gain ever more meaning-for-context in the view of our deaths.
As far as truth is concerned death is a hard fact to beat—both for its eventuality and its vehicular ability to carry us onward in purpose. We make the most of the last minute.
When Push Comes to Shove
An awful fact of human psychology is this: unless we’re pushed, stretched by a challenge, most of us will struggle to be sustainably motivated.
We may live comfortable lives in many ways, but that sense of comfort increases our anxiety, for we know we can achieve more, and be happier, if we’re pressed to achieve our goals. The best purpose of all provides healthy motivation that has us always looking forward within the present moment.
The best purpose of all provides motive, meaning and hope. It’s stayed in efficient use of the present moment. It’s all we need. It’s all we have. When we consider the possibility of no longer having it, the present looms more awesome than ever. Carpe Diem!
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.