"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
-Stephen Grellet, 1773-1855 Quaker Minister (William Penn?)
Make no mistake, you will face the wretched anxiety one day. It would behoove you to be ready.
Since 1993, after another prolonged period of forced painful clarity that very year, I have seen life differently. If we are lucky, we get, and survive, our moment(s) of clarity. These moments are often so painful that one must look them in the eye, and ask what our purpose must be during our time. Hopefully, one's answer is "to make a difference". And the truth is, we all have a chance to make a difference, but it is going to ask something greater of ourselves than we may wish to give. Give it anyways, time is running short, for as I love to say, the problem is we think we have time.
I lost some good friends far too early in life, one to an over indulgence, another (and his brother) on June 23, 1985 as a bomb tore though their Flight 182 Air India Boeing 747 over Ireland airspace, and another to a ruptured vessel in his brain during a night's rest. The pain just kept coming at me, I did not talk about how these events tore through my soul and spirit, I rarely do. I did not confront death well, I ran, I closed up. I was then, and am now, still too emotional a man. You see, the problem is you think you have time. But the fact of the matter is, to this point, you are just lucky.
These fellas still stick with me, they haunt me actually, in the best of ways. The mere fact that their lives were snuffed out far before they were able to give back to this world makes me want to do more every day. Pain leaves a mark. It was just a few days after my 18th birthday -- I still remember being in the process of making a salami sandwich in my mom's kitchen when the radio over my shoulder announced the downing of Flight 182 over the Atlantic. Just the night before the amigos had gathered together to wish them bon voyage as they set off to discover their family history in India. Life changes in a moment -- even during the making of a salami sandwich on a perfect summer day, life can change in a moment and gut you forever.
But, I have learned. I have learned that some pain leaves marks, and that the pain and scars are ones you want to stick around. Having them ache once in awhile reminds you to press on, to make the most of your life and the lives of others, and of course to remember them. However, one is a fool if one does not look at the end story, and embrace the fact that at some point, our own existence will also end. Accepting that you will not pass this way again, that you will only pass through this world but once, should encourage you to do any good deeds or show any kindnesses now before it is too late. Leave some good things behind for those that follow.
As Stephen Jenkinson says in this gutting video, do not wait for the end of your life to find meaning. The truth and meaning is all around you every day, trust me. There is nothing to find, it is not hidden, it is made by the will to proceed. "Nothing you hold dear will last. Life does not feed life, life is on the receiving end of life, it is death that feeds life."
Make peace in your life, and you will not have to find it in your final breaths, it will be gloriously there with you.
Rest in Peace, Deven, Rahul, Blair, Peter . . . my brothers.