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I’ve got a big fear of dying, and so do a whole heck of a lot of other people in this world. American culture in particular doesn’t do a very good job of making us feel like death is a normal and natural part of our existence. So, early on I decided I’d try and game the system. I figured if I never truly started living, the clock wouldn’t start ticking. It seemed reasonable. It wouldn’t be fair to start the clock running if I hadn’t even started the true course of my life. At least if I held back as much as possible, I could at the very least slow the clock down.
My fear really kicked up a notch, well actually a whole lot of notches, when I reached what I suspected was likely the mid way point of my life. All of a sudden I constantly felt like I was walking down a really long block, and for the first time all I could think about was reaching the end. For the first half you aren’t thinking about reaching the corner, but once you’re half way, it’s all you can see or think about. Also this gaming the system was starting to feel a little old. It wasn’t much fun, sort of exhausting and if I was wrong about its effectiveness, I was smart enough to realize I’d already wasted half of my playing time.
The other thing I realized was that this idea of gaming the system meant there was a system to game. It meant I wasn’t alone. And it’s the feeling of being alone. The floating aimlessly, the life without purpose or meaning, the aloneness that’s really the driver of our biggest fear. So I started to try and get living, to feel the whatever it is that’s bigger than me and running the system. I started to focus on connecting more deeply with the people in my life, because the more connected and grounded I feel in this life, the less scary the thought of what comes after is. And I gently, ever so slightly, lean into the fear when it rises up, to practice trusting, so that I can hopefully, someday soon, come to know that I am definitely not alone.