There is a famous movie featuring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins. Mr. Pitt enters Mr. Hopkins life as the grim reaper. He is there to take him away. Faced with the knowledge that death is imminent he manages to face this information with surprising equanimity. Which is more than we can say for most of us. Death is inevitable, however. Till science can find a way for all of us to transcend. Most of us don’t think about it. If confronted with a situation where is may seem possible, it would leave us shivering and cold.
The truth is, no matter what you are doing, it is easily possible that it could be the the last thing ever. The person who took his or her last breadth did not know that it was the last. The next would never occur. So it can be for any of us. While escaping this truth is possible, masters ask you to confront and face it instead. Depending on your level of internal calm this could range from once in a while to all the time. No, I don’t mean telling yourself “I am going to die, I am going to die.” What I mean is the acceptance that it is inevitable. It could happen to you. It could happen anytime. How would you spend your life if you knew that you had a week left. A day? What choices would you make and who would you spend your life with? What is truly important? Accepting death makes you confront choices that you believe you can easily postpone. Otherwise you can be lulled into thinking there is no hurry.
When I tried to confront I found myself pondering. I would certainly like to make good choices. However, to me, it would also be important how I was remembered. What would people who knew me say or think? Did I leave a good reputation behind? One that my son can be proud of? Was I just a crook who exploited every available opportunity or did I live by a certain set of recognizable values. If it is a reputation you want, it can’t be built in your last week. It takes a lifetime. If you haven’t built one yet, its not too late to start. Who knows which bell tolls for thee.