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Time is Ticking


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We've heard the saying before: “Life is what you make of it". Death, on the other hand, is what it is, and we can't make anything out of it other than the fact that when it is over, we leave an empty hospital bed and a bereaved family. This is when perspective, often guided by religious theories, ancient philosophies, even medical science, plays a crucial role in our lives. Life is not just what you make of it, it's how you perceive it. We know our hearts beat and our blood flows, but it is our perspective on life, what it means and more importantly, that we will eventually die, that inevitably leads to a full, richer life. Psalms 23 tells us, “Though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I shall fear no evil. " I argue that, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of life, I shall fear no evil, for I know how this is going to end. I die. After accepting that notion, the question becomes simple. Are you living while you are alive, or are you simply a life waiting to die?

Ever since that miraculous day when we are born, our bodies began to grow, and along with arms and legs, a life was formed. First, bones and flesh and organs and a workable heart, then, personality, character, and the ability to give and receive love. However, once the baby exits the mother's womb, a clock begins to tick. The hour-glass that is our lives is flipped over, and though we measure our lives in years, even celebrating the passing of our precious time with annual birthday parties, the sand in the hourglass continues to fall, the clock continues to tick. There are no batteries to take out in order to stop or slow the clock down, and there is no sleep bar to press in order to halt the clocks’ precise function. We live by the clock, we die by the clock. The living or dying part, however, is up to you.

You can look at this ticking clock in two very different, contrasting ways. It can be viewed as the ticking clock of life, of growth, of living. These are the seconds of our lives, and we shall celebrate each tick. This would be the positive, though maybe ignorant way of viewing our lives. This view holds that the clock ticks, and we are alive, and somebody throw some streamers in the air for god sake and let's have a party! The clock ticks, and there are first birthdays. Fortieth birthdays. Love. Marriage. Kids. Celebrations. And the clock ticks. There are new experiences eagerly awaiting us around every corner. Words like the “future" are thrown around as if it's guaranteed. We dream big dreams and sometimes we even achieve them. We pop champagne. We live life. And the clock ticks. And every morning we turn the page on the calendar and tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. If we don't pay attention to the passing of days, or we choose to ignore that fact of life (or death), then we are living life with a blind-fold on. We choose not to remind ourselves every day that we are going to die, because that would be terribly depressing. However, isn't acknowledging the fact that we will one day die the most effective way to remind us that we are still alive?

Therein lies the other, more troubling way to view this ticking clock theory. It can be viewed as quite literally “a measure of the time of our lives". We are born. The clock begins to tick. However, one could say we are losing time rather than gaining it. This is a countdown. We will one day die, no matter if you want to believe your doctor or not, and therefore all of us, in a sense, have an allotted time set for our lives (maybe even pre-set). First birthdays. Love. Marriage. Kids. But if the clock continues to tick, are these events, these moments of our lives, simply just fleeting? Temporary? Moments of life simply “passing" us along on our road-trip to death? We know a clock never ticks backwards, nor do calendar pages flip in reverse, so what's done is done. Yesterday is over. It's a memory and we know that our memories deteriorate. That first birthday becomes the tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it fall.

Spoiler alert. I am going to ruin the end of the movie that is your life for you right now. The light at the end of the tunnel is death. There. Sorry, no surprise ending. No magical kiss with the beautiful damsel after saving the treasure and getting away from the bad guys. No, the twist at the end of the third act of our lives is no twist at all. We die. Which means, we are dying. Which means, we have been dying all along. The moments of our lives are just that. Tick, tock.

This brings me to my overall thesis regarding the ticking clock theory. It can be argued that our entire lives are simply a series of years before our impending deaths. The counter-argument to the positive thinkers, who believe that the ticking clock is the beauty of life itself, measured in time, is quite simple. To these optimists I must remind them of one terrifying word: aging. Human beings are an amazing collection of flesh and bone and molecules and blood, however, we are just that. Beings. And, we are “being human" until the very day we die. Therefore, we are a life form that, from inception, is put on a straight-forward, one-way, double yellow-lined highway to death.

No two roads converge in a wood. There is no road less taken. There is only one road. And as you get older, you will realize that the road is bumpy and full of pot holes. You will develop conditions. Arthritis. Headaches. Insomnia. Maybe even diseases. Diabetes. Alzheimer's. Cancer. Your bones will become weaker. Your skin becomes thin, and bruises easily. Your back aches. Your cholesterol spikes. Muscles atrophy and we realize that “being human" means living, and living in turn, inevitably means dying. Tick, tock.

Now, I am far more spiritual than I am scientific, but in the case of our lives, I believe we must first accept the facts. If you're short in stature, buy clothes that fit. If you have a disease, live with it the best you can. If a loved one dies, you can't begin to mourn their death until you accept the finality that they are gone. Therefore, we must embrace our own death in order to understand the significance of our lives. We must learn to accept the fact that we are aging, and our challenge to adapt to the changes in our bodies, no matter how painful or problematic that may be, and live the best we can through each tick, and through each tock. If we accept the fact that we are living beings and therefore we are dying beings, than we can truly “live in the moment". We can expand the time between each tick and each tock simply by changing our mindset and reminding ourselves that everything is temporary. In short, simply by acknowledging the fact that we are dying reminds us that we are still alive.

Our clocks don't come with instruction manuals, but our bodies come with brains. is a one-stop shop, a place to go to buy items that can enrich our lives, and pad our seats for the bumpy car-ride of life. Yes, we are dying. All of us. Even the youngest of us are going to die. Therefore, if death is going to happen, let it happen in the end, not somewhere in the middle, where due to aging, you just decide to kick the clock off the nightstand and stay in bed. No, get out and live! Live every tick and every tock to the best of your ability, not for the sake of life, but simply for the reality of death. It will eventually come and there will be nothing you can do. But today, right now, this moment, you are alive, you are breathing. So, until that final tick rattles off, live like you're going to die, and your life will be that much more whole.

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