“Life is short.” We have all heard, or said this phrase at some point. But, do we really internalize it? Do we really understand that life is short? Do we understand that we could be talking to a loved one, and the next day they are gone? Or that we could be gone? We always equate death with sickness, or old age. But that isn’t always the case. My great-grandmother used to say, “On your wellest day, you’re sick enough to die.” Needless to say, my great-grandmother was a wise woman. We all depart this Earth at our appointed time. There is no such thing as “dodging death”, or dying before our time. Be it an illness, a tragic accident, or natural causes. When our time is up, that is final. In the grand scheme of things, 60-80 years on this Earth is a mere wrinkle in time. When we’re living in the moment, (especially when we’re young), it may seem as though we have all of time in the world.
I’m reminded of a verse from the Holy Quran:
“Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.” Surah Al ‘Imran [3:185]
This verse is very powerful. The Creator has made it very clear that no one will escape the reality of this life: death. Not only is death imminent, we are also guaranteed recompense for our deeds (good and bad). The last sentence is a sobering reminder that we are deluded by our desires. Our desires influence our actions more than we’d like to admit. We’re increasingly living for the “now” without understanding what the “now” is. I think the young people say “YOLO” nowadays. Yes, the acronym is true. We only live once. But what are we living for? Our desires, or something greater? That’s where the line needs to be drawn. Life is short, we can die at anytime, etc. But how are we spending the time that we do have? Are we enthralled with material things? Or are we striving to leave a legacy after we pass? I’m not referring to a material legacy either. A legacy of service, helping others, touching lives anyway we can, standing up for justice. If this life is just about enjoying and indulging our 5 senses, well, that is indeed tragic. We all have a choice to make with the time we have left; live in the world or be of the world.
For many, death is something depressing that should not be discussed, until after it has happened. We need to be asking ourselves why. Perhaps it is the way we perceive death, or the way that we are living. Death is perceived as something to be avoided, it’s only for the elderly. We don’t have to concerned with it until right before we pass away. It’s just something that happens to all of us. Death has no relation to how we live our lives. This couldn’t be further from the truth! If we truly reflected on the frailty of life and our fleeting existence, we would live differently.
I know I’m not saying anything revolutionary. My intentions are not to scare anyone or be a “Debbie Downer.” My intentions are to simply remind myself, and whoever happens to be reading these words, that the time we have on this Earth needs to be full and have value. If it isn’t, then it has been nothing but a waste. We only have one opportunity to live our lives, why waste time and energy on people, or activities that serve no purpose except as a distraction?
I cannot take complete credit for this post. It was inspired by Brother Ali Banat, May Allah have mercy on his soul. If you haven’t heard of him, I urge you to look him up. Ali lived a life of service and value. He left a legacy that should serve as inspiration if you’re a human being, regardless of religion. He was a wealthy young man who was diagnosed with a rare form of inoperable cancer three years ago. He spent the remainder of his life giving his wealth to the less fortunate. He even started a charity where he was able to help thousands of people in the short time he had left. Not all of us have the means or ability to start a charitable organization. However, we all have the means and ability to live a life of purpose.
What will we do with our lives while we’re still healthy and in possession of all our faculties?