The Wisdoms Project

Death and Life

I have always been very intrigued by what might be over the next hill. 

Like the time years ago, when Anne and I and some friends followed an unfamiliar road out of town just to see where it went.  After miles and miles with me driving “just over one more hill,” I finally and reluctantly acceded to their pleading to turn around and go back.  The curiosity of the unknown creates a real excitement in me.  Life offers a wonderful, ongoing adventure.

At the same time, I have always believed that there is a big, 18-wheeler out there on the interstate looking for me….and that it is going to find me one day.  And when that moment of contact happens, in whatever form it takes, there will be a flash of realization for me.

I am not afraid of that flash because I know two things for an absolute certainty.  One….it is going to happen some day, some time and I can’t prevent it.  And, two….whenever it does happen, I will be ready because I have lived my life to its fullest without wasting any time.  Knowing those two things is very comforting.

In that instant, I will accept the realization that enough is enough, that it was a great ride, and that those I loved will get along very nicely with just their memories of me.  All I ask is that when that flash happens, it happens in a flash and that it doesn’t hurt.

Life is eternal. Love is immortal and Death is only a horizon.
And a horizon is only the limit of our sight.

Death is not extinguishing the light;
it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end
.…may also be only the beginning.
              Ivy Baker Priest

        The tragedy of life is not in the fact of death,
                                              but in what dies inside of you while you live.
Albert Einstein

The great affair, the love affair with life….is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred.  Climb aboard and gallop over the rolling, sun-struck hills everyday.

Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding….and despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles and detours….life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length.

It began in mystery and it will end in mystery….but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.
                                                                          Diane Ackerman

Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years.
People grow old by deserting their ideals.
 Samuel Ullman

Growing old is no more than a bad habit
which a busy person has no time to form.
Andre Maurois

Forty is the old age of youth.  Fifty is the youth of old age.
Hosea Ballou

The good thing about being old is that
….you don’t have to worry about dying young.
Bernhardt Crystal

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp
 if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.
Doug Larson

There is no cure for birth and death….except to enjoy the interval.
    George Santayana

                                      When asked,  “What surprises you most about humankind?”
                                                                    God is said to have answered:
                         “It surprises me that they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up,
                                                                and then long to be children again.
       That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health.
                       That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present,
                                  such that they live neither for the present nor the future.
    And it surprises me that they live as if they will never die, then die as if they had never lived.”

Life can only be understood backward….but it must be lived forward.
    Soren Kierkegaard

They leave a lot out of personnel handbooks. Dying, for instance. You can find “Funeral Leave,” but you can't find “Dying.”
You can't find what to do when a person you've worked with since you both were pups looks you in the eye and says something about hope and chemotherapy. No phrases, no triplicate forms, no rating systems. Seminars won't do it and it's too late for a new policy on sabbaticals.
They don't tell you about eye contact and how easily it slips away when a co-worker and friend returns from surgery and says that they didn't get it all.
You can find essays on motivation, but the business schools don't teach what the good manager should say to keep the other people taking up the slack while someone steals a little more time at the hospital. There's no help from those tapes you pop into the players while you drive or jog….they never get the voice right. And this poem won't help either. You just have to figure it out for yourself….and don't ever expect to do it well.
James Autry

Death happens because life happens; creatures die because creatures live.
It sounds so simple, yet this truth has been somehow sterilized out of life today.
    Tony Chamberlain

Grief over the loss of a loved one is perhaps our greatest delusion, for we retain within us the essential character of our relationship with that person. That it is only form, not substance, which is lost is something we can only appreciate as a consequence of the experience of knowing that person.    .
Mohandas Gandhi

Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.
Theodor Geisel

The highest tribute to the dead is not grief, but gratitude.

Let your tears come. Let them water your soul.
    Eileen Mayhew

Weeping is perhaps the most human and universal of all relief measures.
    Karl Menninger

It is astonishing how important a person becomes when they die.
    Yiddish Saying

The prerequisite for immortality is death.

Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
    George Bernard Shaw

  Famous Last Words:

He’s probably just hibernating.
What does this button do?
It’s probably just a rash.
Are you sure that the power is off?
The odds of that happening have to be a million to one!
I’ve seen this done on TV.
These are the good kind of mushrooms.
I’ll hold it and you light the fuse.
It’s strong enough for the both of us.
I can make this light before it changes.
Nice doggie.
That’s odd?
Now watch this.

Just before you die, you should be able to add to your life all the time you spent on hold.…less the existing minutes you found on parking meters.

One of the tough things about getting older
.…is putting on my socks.
One day it’s because of my paunch;
one day it’s because of my joints.
Most days now I just go barefoot.
Feels great!

Eulogies that should have made the dead
sit up and take notice:

Winston Churchill said, “Our friend here was a modest little person with much to be modest about.”
Oscar Wilde said, “Some people cause happiness wherever they go….others, whenever they go.”
Clarence Darrow said, “I have never killed anyone, but I have read many obituaries
          with great pleasure.”
Samuel Johnson said, “He was not only dull himself….he was the cause of the dullness in others.”
Groucho Marx said, “As I told him a while ago when I had dinner with him….
          I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”
Mark Twain said, “I recently learned of his illness and I hoped it was nothing trivial.”
Winston Churchill said, “He had all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices that I admire.”
Oscar Wilde said, “He had no enemies, but he was intensely disliked by his friends.”
Mark Twain said, “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.”

The purpose of life is the growth of the soul. The body is not the measure of healing. Peace is the measure. And part of the healing is to accept and embrace death. People die when their work is done on the planet or they die when they cease to grow. Many people do heal into death, resolving major life issues to completion. Healing does not necessarily mean you stay in the body. People with life-threatening diseases must come to terms with death. The more one resists or denies it, the more power death has. It is the quality of life that is the real issue.

Life and death are all part of the same great adventure.
Do not fear to die and do not shrink from the joy of life.

Life is not measured in years.
It is measured in moments.
Elie Wiesel

A man who lost his brother was asked, “What was the cause of his death?”
….and the man replied, "Life."

I never ask “Why me?” because then I'd have to ask “Why me?”
for all the great things that happened in my life.
    Arthur Ashe

At the end of our time on Earth, if we have lived fully,
                          we will not be able to say:
                                               “I was always happy.”
Hopefully we will be able to say:
                         “I have experienced a lifetime of real moments
                                               and many of them were happy moments.”
    Barbara DeAngeles

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep,
so a life well used brings happy death.
Leonardo da Vinci

Some people believe that holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength.
However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go….and then to do it.
Ann Landers

The idea of dying doesn’t frighten me.  However, some kind of pain does….so I will have to perfect the art of leaving my body quickly and easily.  But dying itself, I think, will be quite an adventure.
Shirley MacLaine

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there.
I did not die.

I believe that when you die you go into other people’s hearts….and you are taken into their lives for the rest of their lives….and they then pass that on.  Just like music.  It never ends.  It goes on and on.
Billy Joel

May you live in interesting times.
    Chinese Proverb