Like many others, I was shocked and saddened by the untimely death of Apple's co-founder, Steve Jobs, who was just six years my senior. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was laughing at an uncle, calling him old, because he'd started to get grey hair. My laughter turned serious when he quickly admonished me that he was only 35, and that although I was much more youthful, I had yet to attain that age and should hope that I do. Soberingly, I've changed my perception on the fragility of life since then.
A few years later I miraculously escaped the claws of death by surviving a terrible car accident. My first thoughts afterward were, whoa! -- I'm not so invincible. It was my first realization that dying was more than just something that happens to other people, while I sit on the sidelines. I was forced to face the inevitableness that death has a reservation for each of us, without the option to rebook.
Just turning 50 now, and reflecting on the life and death of Steve Jobs, my first thoughts were, wow! He was so young! It's amazing how our perspective changes with the natural progression of life. Realizing that Jobs journeyed over that line we must all cross, independently of our incalculable contributions to earth or mankind, is a sobering reminder of death's eventuality. All our worth will one day be contributed to what we accomplished while living. Anything we should have, or could have done becomes irrelevant at that point.
This calls for yet another revised perspective of life. Knowing that death is certain should give us reason to ponder the meaning we give our life, here and now. We should ask: Are we living the fulfilled existence we truly enjoy or regrettably abiding by the "shalls" and "shall nots" passed down to us? Am I living my own life or walking lockstep with the crowd? These are questions only we can answer for ourselves.
Society and others' views may not always align with our own. However, we should find some comfort in this dissent. Other's discontentment could be more a reflection of a life they are not living than the life that we are living. There's no rhyme or reason to objecting to the lives of others when our own is truly content. One harbors discontentment in their own life, when not contented with the life of others.
We can start over now, with knowledge, learning and experience we were not privy to at the beginning of our life. We were born not even knowing our language and were bombarded with teachings, values and views handed to us by others. Many of us had our religions and beliefs confirmed for us long before we could adequately make a decision of intelligent choice for ourselves. Consequently, we accepted someone else's truth as our own.
Now is an opportunity to decipher the rhetoric in our lives and seek and find our own truths. The training wheels have to come off at some point, and we need apply the lesson we've learned thus far. We can assess what's really important for us individually to sustain a meaningful existence in the universe. Based on our self-realized perspective, our stance on love, forgiveness, greed, animosity, are some of what should be vigorously examined while on the "life" side of that thin line between death. In doing so there is no purpose in fretting the living side, or regretting the dying side of the line. Whether or not we consider our life great depends on how honestly we assess it individually. Only then can we embrace the magnificence of the line in between the two.