The knowledge that I am soon dead is the most important tool I have ever discovered to help me make great life decisions. Because virtually everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - simply falls away when you see death in the eyes. Only what really matters is left. The knowledge that you are about to die is, in my opinion, the best way to circumvent the fall that you think you have something to lose. You are already naked.
This wisdom is not from myself, but from Steve Jobs. I read it in the book "Show your work" by Austin Kleon, which I pulled out of yesterday when I procrastinated the writing of my website texts. Procrastination is an English loanword for: systematic postponement, usually in connection with theses and papers. I hope it will be another word of the year, because it covers the load so much, especially if you have a rolling 'r'. Prrrobeerrr but es: procrastinate. If you still do that as a 44-year-old, you can easily set up a club. There are more like you! Anyway, the book has the subtitle: 10 ways to share your creativity with the world. Chapter one is already promising for me as a fearful person: you do not have to be a genius! A little further follows a whole series of tips, including: 'read obituaries!'. In the section next to it was the above quotation
from Steve Jobs.
That brought my thoughts back to my own experience of almost four years ago. A sudden seizure of epilepsy, which I did not know I had that condition, behind the wheel of my yellow Opel Corsa, I barely survived, because there was a tough friend next to me, who remained calm and acted adequately. The same evening I realized what an incredible luck we both had. The realization that I had not been there without her, came to me when I closed my daughter again the next day.
Despite the horrendous insecurity associated with epilepsy and attunement to medication, this moment has been decisive for me. I read about it last summer: a much-discussed article by journalist Fokke Obbema in de Volkskrant about his cardiac arrest. In it he not only describes the recovery process, but also the search for the cause and the mental consequences. Especially those mental consequences are recognizable to many. My Facebook call yielded at least ten names of people who experienced something similar.
In recent years I have also made explorations of the so-called NDE, a near-death experience: a phenomenon where you are clinically dead and see a tunnel of light and often also a mythical figure (people often call the person of Jesus) who addresses them and says, "It is not yet your time." These people are by definition religious to be able to place this experience. Most people also put their lives at the service of God, sometimes also paralyzed because they do not know well 'what now?'
I do not want to go that far. By that time I saw a light tunnel, it appeared that the lamp above the stretcher in the ambulance. The ambulance brother asked me when I was born and where! When you suddenly hear yourself say 'Leeuwarden', you know that you are not yet in paradise and you automatically become aware: 'Did I hear myself saying Leeuwarden ?!' No, that was not a NDE.
Still, it feels like I have been given a second chance. Now there is not really a choice of suppliers of opportunities in the Netherlands. Of that Joop van den Ende-like types. So, I usually say: God gave me a new chance. Anyone who hears that, believing or disbelieving, then melts completely, and when I see that look from my listener and have heard my own words, I also begin to sob of emotion.
Where does this argument lead, because I started so seriously! Now, it is also serious. The day of that attack at the wheel I call 'my lucky day', because I got no accident. I finally succeeded in taking things as they are and living in the HERE and NOW. Despite the setbacks that I had to deal with physically and in contacts with people, I recovered more than I could have imagined. Now, the contacts are real, I got a lot of opportunities, also business: the gunfactor that I had always applied myself, came back to me. I notice that I am looking for the sharpness in the matters that I take up politically or as a volunteer. I have the most honor of a friendly word in the Jumbo or just on the street: people whom I never see, but who can give me some courage. If I want to arrange something, I'll do it. If you have something to complain about, see what you can do to change it. Does not it work? Pull your conclusions!
Life is too good to waste time.
The knowledge that I am soon dead is the most important tool I have ever discovered to help me make great life decisions. Because virtually everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - simply falls away when you see death in the eyes.