Mindfulness and existentialist writings in an age of anxiety

Live in the present moment

I used to be afraid of death. I was not simply afraid to die, but rather I was afraid of death itself.

I used to be afraid of the vast separation that death would inevitably cause me. I would cower in terror whenever I would contemplate the fact that I or someone very close to me would die. When I was a child I used to imagine over and over again that I would come home one day and my mother would be gone. I used to think death would come and take her away while I was at school.

Over time I got over that idea. If I’m being perfectly honest with myself though, I should say that my fear evolved. As I got older my fear of death became a fear of the shortness of life. I was afraid that I was running out of time.

The reality of a short life forced me to look at myself and the decisions I made on the daily. I also became more aware of those around me. I began to reflect on those I loved and what I had accomplished in my life up until that present moment. I began to ask myself :

“If I were to die today would I be content with that? Would I feel as though I lived a full and abundant life?”

How could I live in a way that, if I were to die today, I would be able to find peace and contentment in a life well lived?

This is one of the most important questions to me because we never know when we will go and to live a good life seems to me like a worthwhile pursuit. To live a meaningful life is what we as human beings strive for. We must live every moment to the fullest because of the realization that every moment can indeed be our last.

I used to be more concerned about what would happen to me after I died than what would happen in this present moment. Yet something happened to me. Call it what you want, an awakening, a spiritual experience, a cognitive shift, or something else entirely.

I do believe that this moment is what we are given and this moment is all that we have. The past is gone. We have the memories of the past which are memories that can only be thought of and reflected upon in this present moment. The future hasn’t happened yet, rather doesn’t yet exist. The only way we can shape the future is also by looking to this present moment and time. Even dreaming about the future happens in the moment. We can dream about what could be and this can give us the inspiration to be better in this moment.

What I do in this present moment is of the utmost importance. This present moment shapes the next moment and the next moment.

My fear of death was really a fear of an unknown. That’s quite an ironic statement when you think about it because life itself is unknown. My fear of death was actually a fear of life and the great vastness of it.

There is something here in this present moment. Be still and look deeply and you may find it. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow does not exist. Now is the time. Now is the moment.

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