Earlier this week, one of my favorites yoga instructors, Jade Alectra, posted an Instastory of a book called, The Book of Questions. She had screenshot one of the questions inside of this book with a poll giving two options: yes or no, so you could give your answer.
The question? “If you were handed an envelope with the date of your death inside, and you knew you could do nothing to alter your fate, would you look?”
Before you read on — answer the question for yourself.
In all transparency, I answered “no” on her poll. I wouldn’t look. I wouldn’t want to know. I wouldn’t want to live confined to a timeline, anxiously anticipating my own death. I wouldn’t want to live with a countdown of this-many-days-until-I’m-gone. Or so I thought.
The day after Jade posted this to her Instastory, she made an Instagram post about her answer to the question. In this post, she explained that her answer to the question was “yes” — and she explained why. She describes death as being “the deepest, quickest, clearest awakening from the bullshit you think matters.” She talks of how knowing the date of your death would keep you from the disillusionment of having all of the time in the world to complete the things you want to complete in this life. She speaks of treating the next year of her life as if it is the last year of her life— executing more and shifting more towards what matters. Jade also mentions an “imaginary wait pile” — to which she refers the place we put things that may be too daunting to attempt in the now. She talks of how dying without putting her book into the world pains her to even imagine.
This post More Help ripped my heart wide open. It completely changed my answer. I have read the post over and over again. I, without a doubt, would look. I would want to see and know the date of my own death. It would allow me to put into perspective how much time I really have left to do the things I want to do. Buddha said, “The trouble is, you think you have time.” I think it is fair to say most of us are in this disillusioned, hopeful state that we will live until we are old and gray and our days may feel infinite as we peer down a long, imaginary road of 20, 30, 40, 50+ years left of life.
Reading Jade’s post, I was reminded of a phrase from Crazy Horse, the Sioux Lakota Indian leader. He is remembered saying, “Hoka Hey, today is a good day to die!” to his Sioux Lakota tribe as they fought General Custer. Aubrey Marcus, human optimization expert and one of my favorite podcasters, speaks of “Hoka Hey” often. In one podcast episode, Aubrey talks about how he strives to live in a way that when his day to leave this earth comes, he will be able to say “Hoka Hey” and truly feel it is a good day to die; knowing he lived fully each day and did what he came to this Earth to do. He says before that day comes, there is still so much of his medicine that he needs to give to the world (by his medicine he is speaking of healing he can provide that he doesn’t want to take to the grave with him).
I’ll be honest, I am nowhere close to being able to comfortably say “Hoka hey, today is a good day to die.” There is so much that I still want to do in this life. This question really makes me think, “What in the hell am I waiting for?”
What if am I going to my grave in one week? One month? One year? Five years? Twenty years? Having a “wait pile” a tall as the dreams I’ve dreamed? How can I continue to push things off and shove them into a dusty, dark corner in the back of my mind for “another time” that I know damn well may never come?
Ask yourself, if you were to die next year, would you be okay with not writing that book? Not telling that person you love them? Not taking that trip? Not leaving that job? Not marrying that person? Not moving to that city? Not taking that chance? Not chasing that dream?
If you knew you only had one year left… what would you do differently? Would you stop to watch more sunsets? Walk more slowly? Stop and smell the roses? Relish in those slow mornings with a hot cup of coffee? Eat that cupcake? Start that business? Create that podcast? Paint more? Feel more? Love more? Would you call your parents more? Spend more time with your friends?
If you knew you only had one year left… would you still care about expensive clothes? Or cars? Or Instagram followers? Would the opinions of other’s still carry so much weight? Would you still base your decision’s off of the expectations that other’s have placed on you? Or would you finally let your heart lead the way?
Now, let me ask you again — “If you were handed an envelope with the date of your death inside, and you knew you could do nothing to alter your fate, would you look?“