“People keep dying and it makes me worry that I’m going to die.”
This is an actual conversation I had with someone recently. It stemmed from the news of the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other poor souls ripped from the sky on a Sunday. I reminded this person “well, you are going to die, so don’t worry about it.” Which is a pointless remark since almost everyone worries about the nature, timing or overall reality of their deaths.
I once talked to a therapist about my own fears which, at the time, seemed irrational. I was terribly afraid of being in a car accident despite not ever having been in so much as a fender bender. The therapist asked “does that fear keep you from going places? From driving the car?” No. “Then ignore it.” Interestingly, a few years later I was in fact in a car accident, didn’t die, but was simply reminded that I’m not immortal.
And maybe that’s the point. These fears and the daily TMZ reports of dead celebrities and sports stars are here to remind us that we aren’t here forever. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you how to spend the time you have. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have that right. Spend it in church if you want, pack your calendars full of social events or stay home dressing your cat as your own favorite dead celebrity for all I care!
But what you shouldn’t do, is waste that time. Or waste it! That’s your prerogative as a mere spec on a giant rock floating through space (to quote one of my more enlightened friends at work). Personally, I don’t consider watching The Office season 4 episode 13 on repeat a waste of time. It tickles my funny bone and delights me every single time, so not a waste. Spending it being angry and holding grudges is probably a waste, but I sometimes do that too.
Making better use of our short time here is the only real takeaway you can have from tragedy. Any other worry just feels like spinning on a hamster wheel. At least today.