On the bus ride to work today I listened to the Joe Rogan podcast with guest Kevin Smith, who recently had an heart-attack scare. Towards the end of the three-hour episode Kevin Smith talked about his near-brush with death. He said for a guy who’s been scared of dying his whole life, he was surprisingly calm and okay when he was lying in the hospital not knowing whether he’ll make it out. Life is a journey and when the journey is over it’s nothing to be afraid of or lamented, but rather be glad: people are happy when they accomplish things and life is literally the longest and biggest thing we get to do.
Kevin Smith talked about the feelings he experienced being okay with dying was surprisingly the same his mother felt that time when she went into cardiac arrest, was clinically dead for a few moments, and came back. She remarked that being on the “other side” for that brief time was the ultimate sense of freedom: this life she’s toiled so hard through is finally over and what's left was absolute peace.
As someone who’ve battled the fear of death demon for years, I was shocked to hear a guy like Kevin Smith, with his tremendous success, can harbor that same fear. The wisdom I gained from his story is that in life if you accomplish many great things, get after it with gusto, and leave no regrets behind, that life well lived will make death spectacularly easy to face. Kevin Smith felt okay with possibly dying from the heart attack because he was satisfied with all the awesome things he had done.
Leaving this human world is the reward at the end of the marathon of life - even if it’s cut short by disease or other circumstances.
I’m afraid to die because I want to live, because there’s many things I’ve yet to do. Fear of dying is a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more you try to avoid it by living super passively and avoiding everything difficult, the more that fear lingers and eats within. The way to make death acceptable is to live a life worthy of it: try new things, chase dreams, go after what you desire, be the hero.
To put it another way: is the things you’ve done and accomplish in life worth dying for?