I know this was a challenging week for many of us. It seemed to me that death was in the air somehow. Of course, there was our collective reflection on those senselessly slain in school shootings and how to proceed, but there were also the sudden passings of my loved ones’ loved ones, and then last night, the heartbreaking news that a friend of mine has but weeks left to wrap up her journey here and say goodbye.
As Leonard Cohen so wisely observed, “There is a crack. A crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Death is the ultimate crack in this tapestry of life, and it’s one that we often spend a great deal of time and energy attempting to delay or ignore.
In moments like these when death is right up in our face, though, we have a real opportunity to look for the light in that crack. We can choose to accept and embrace our finitude and the never ending flux of reality. Instead of giving in to fear, we can instead be animated by the knowledge of our eventual end to live and love more fiercely today, in this very moment.
READ: Now it’s not just fears of death that can keep us from living fully, of course. Stoic philosophers like Seneca observed that all manner of anxieties can cause us unnecessary suffering. He encouraged people to practice the one form of positive procrastination: worry tomorrow about what you need not worry about today.
“It is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact. How often has the unexpected happened! How often has the expected never come to pass! And even though it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering? You will suffer soon enough, when it arrives; so look forward meanwhile to better things. What shall you gain by doing this? Time.”
WATCH: “Living means more than just staying alive,” says physician, Lucy Kalanithi as she reflects on life and purpose in telling the story of her late husband, Paul, a young neurosurgeon whose journey ended far earlier than expected.
LISTEN: And, last but certainly not least, here is Leonard Cohen himself reminding us in his inimitable style to seek the light in the cracks.
Make this week magnificent!