remember to live

The deaths of two people I never met inspired this post.

Yesterday a man and his dog were killed by a drunk driver one block away from my house. Not even one block away. I wasn’t home when it happened but I am sure I would have heard the crash and the neighbors’ screams and the police because this is a very quiet neighborhood. The truth is that it could have just as easily been me because I also walk in the morning on the street where he was killed. Yesterday morning I did not.

A 57 year old man was walking his dog around 6:30 AM. A drunk driver was speeding, left the road, struck mailboxes, and then hit the man and his dog. He then went back on the street and hit an SUV, pushing it into a front yard. He got out and tried to run away. He was charged with aggravated driving under the influence, reckless homicide, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, driving on a revoked license, and failure to give information or aid.

Today my husband attended the wake of the husband of one of his employees. The man was undergoing chemotherapy after a cancer operation and after leaving the hospital after his treatment, he was walking across the parking lot to his car and literally dropped dead. He was 41 years old. My husband stood in line for 90 minutes at the funeral home because there were so many people waiting to pay their respects.

Incidents such as these always make me question how people live their lives. I always tell my husband to live each day as if it will be his last. I try to follow my own advice and after being on this yogic and spiritual path for quite some time, the little things just don’t bother me anymore. The clothes get folded when they get folded, the dishes get done when they get done. Sometimes even the bigger things just don’t phase me anymore.

People come to my classes totally stressed about one thing or the other and sometimes I throw the question out there: how would you live if you knew you only had one more hour to live? What good does all that attachment to the past and fear of the future do for you now? If you knew you only had one more hour to live I guarantee you that you would start cherishing each moment and each breath. I challenge you: visualize it, really feel it in your bones — what would it be like to know you will be dead at the end of an hour?

Contemplating death is an important aspect of Buddhism, yet fear of death is a major fear for most people. It is said that all our fears in life stem from our fear of death. Buddha said that death is certain but the time of death is uncertain. When we allow this reality to become conscious, it jolts us awake to life’s juiciness and heightens our awareness of the beauty and uniqueness of everything.

So why can’t you live as if you were dying? Our delusion is that we live as if we will never die.

It’s a physics fact that matter can neither be created nor destroyed. As a Buddhist I believe that it follows from that fact that what is never born can never die. I heard the Dalai Lama say that “what is never born can never die” in a teaching on dependent origination.

My body will die, but what makes me me will never die — my life energy, my prana, my chi, my soul, my spirit, or whatever you want to call it, will continue on. Fully realizing that was liberation. I no longer fear death or dying. That realization helps me to truly enjoy life, every living, breathing present moment, the good AND the bad. I am as equally grateful for the bad as I am for the good.

It has made me fear-less.

How will you remember to live?


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10 thoughts on “remember to live

  1. It's not a bad thing to be reminded again every now and then! Beautifully and poignantly written L! Des a/k/a YoginiD

  2. ah finally i see where to post a comment to your wonderful words… thank you for the reminder, it is so precious… the greatest gift to give… awareness…. I love reading your blog but for some reason often cant find where to post comments or ask questions!! Hopefully i have discovered the portal now… ok thats weird i did sign up as a member but now i dont know which selection to make in the comment as box… im gonna press anonymous and see if that works, but i dont want to be anonymous, blessings Emma Wilson

  3. This is a gorgeous post. I feel like for a while I was so concerned with reaching my goals I was definitely not enjoying the process. But one of the many problems with that is that we always have new goals to reach. No matter how accomplished we are.

    I came into yoga as a runner because it helped me with stretching and conditioning and I have to say it's really done so much more for me.

    Cheers to getting those dishes done whenever they get done:)

  4. I totally relate to this post, but then I also contemplate whether I've really gotten underneath all of my fears around death, or if I just think I have. One never knows, til the end.

    Part of why I love yoga and meditation is the connection that's possible (if you are open to such things and don't automatically take the position of atheist), the sense of knowing I am more than just my flesh and blood bag… the energy of life and the dance of creation being eternal.

    Linda – I've updated my post on those horrible radio hosts!!

  5. Linda, this is a beautiful post! It's exactly what I needed today. After some “soul searching” this past weekend, I realized that I had been spending too much of my life living in the past and the future. You have confirmed my thought that living in the “right now” is most important.

    Yoga was once a way for me to get a good stretch, but now I'm beginning to understand the benefits to my mind and soul.

    Thank you sis!

  6. Hi Linda,

    First time reader here, and I had to comment on this post and say how much it resonates with me. I am frequently guilty of “grass is greener” wherever I'm not… and this post is a great kick in the pants to drop it and live instead. So thank you!

    I do hope you'll continue writing.

  7. Thanks Linda for another wonderful post. It seems to be a part of my lesson in this lifetime to understand the nature of life and death. Two days ago, my 16-year-old cat caught a baby bird. I will spare readers the sad details of the bird's last moments—an image I suspect will never leave me.

    Knowing that cats are hardwired for hunting did not make me any less sad. But despite my sadness for the bird's life, I really got it in my gut that my cat, Jazzy, who's the sweetest-natured cat I've ever known and who's struggling with kidney disease, really needed this little being's life force. As you say in your story, the bird's life force was not destroyed; it had to go somewhere, and I could see and feel where it went. Even though I'm sad about the bird's last moments, I feel gratitude to the spirit of the little bird.

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