Death, it has been argued, is the way to ensure that we live life with gravity. (Pun intended.) But death really doesn’t ensure that, does it? As a general observation, conservatives in America are happy to see their enemies die and our criminals be executed. But has that made conservatives live life with more appreciation, presence and gusto? If so, I have not seen any evidence.
Most everyone over 16 in the US happily drives cars that kill thousands every year and will heighten the risk of death to each one. Some heighten the risk even more by simultaneously chatting on their cell phone, eating, doing a search for a dropped cigarette and texting. (I will never forget seeing a driver going between 70 and 80 mph using two cell phones. It looked like he was manually transferring the phone numbers from one to the other.) We drive by fatal car crashes a few times a month. Have those deaths ensured our living life to the full? No, no more than the formerly popular public executions in the city square. The evidence indicates that death does not ensure that we give life more value. (And why should we need such a confirmation?)
I believe that what gives life more value is a fuller experience of it. There are many ways to do that including awareness, education, community, cross-cultural experience, great sex and other peak physical experiences, a strong connection with earth and the ebbs and flows of Nature. A good workout, a comfortable hammock in the shade, a hot drink on an icy winter day, meeting a long-missed friend, laughing and sharing a big family meal (from preparation to cleanup), a welcome home embrace, some blessed solitude, a frolicking dance to a favorite tune, a great story that helps us expand our gratitude or awareness…
These are what make us value life. They don’t convince us of its gravity…they lift us out of it. They tease us and love us into gratitude for being. They confirm our heart’s most ardent wish- that each of us matters and that everything will turn out well for all concerned. The more we embrace and encourage these experiences, the more life gives, the greater our gratitude, the fonder our memories, the more friends we have and…fill in the blank. It’s your life.