Recently I’ve been thinking about mortality, I’m in my forties now and in my early twenties I’m not sure I thought I’d ever make it this far. Now I’m here I’ve been looking around me, at my family, friends and even  strangers on a train. Who’s healthy? What age have people died? What are the commonalities?

On my fathers side it’s cancer and my mother’s it’s strokes. So I’m looking at this and preparing. It will soon be the anniversary of my fathers death, 12 years ago he died and left a gaping hole, one I had never prepared for.

“You can’t predict. You can prepare.” Howard Marks

I heard the above quote on a recent Tim Ferriss podcast, it reminded me I have to prepare for my own passing. What happens if I die in the next 12 months? 2 years? 5 years? I have yet to make a will, I also don’t have a legacy I’ve worked hard enough on, so what would I be leaving behind?

Death is a subject many of us shy from and I’m uncomfortable thinking and writing about it yet I know I need to prepare, we all do.

So my focus right now is on preventing an early death. I can look at my lifestyle and make changes based on current knowledge around cancer. I can make sure my mind is active and that my blood is strong for prevention of heart problems, I can do many things to eliminate the risk. It may or may not help yet I can’t sit back and do nothing.

“It’s not lost on me that everyone dies, but some people have a kind of immortality about them, and you can’t imagine that they will ever be gone.” – Henry Rollins 

What are you thinking about for your life? Each morning I write “I’m grateful to be alive ” in my gratitude journal. It’s easy to forget how simply being here, on this planet, in this universe is actually a miracle.

There’s a 3 minute song from Monty Python describing this view better than I can:

“…Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.

The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.

We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go ’round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.

So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth…”

You can listen and watch the video at the following link, it’s funny and thought provoking, enjoy!

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    1. I haven’t heard this song in a long time, what a great share. I’ve been listening to it again today, I’ve added it into to my regular playlist!

  1. I’m not sure if I share this story with you (I’m starting to get old and repeat myself), but this reminded me to the morning when I woke up with a call from my mother’s nurse explaining to me that they both got hit by a car while crossing the street, that they were stable and that I can come to visit them at the Emergency room. It was a strange day where I learned many things about myself like that I kept the calm, decided to have breakfast and drive really slowly to the hospital, taking my time to stop on the side to call my brother; instead of rushing and risking another problem. They still mock me for that.

    But I could clearly feel how it shaped our family. My older sister panicked thinking that she would never be able to take care of the family as my mother did with her siblings. My parents realized how “unprepared” they were for something like that, and not only because of the feeling of not being alive anymore (I envy how strong they are feeling at ease with the people they are right now, and with the life, they’ve lived), but the actual practicalities of this. My mum started to dig over paperwork and found that she has 3 life insurances, they never work out our home deal with their will (my siblings don’t share the same father, so we should change the default settings on most assets to something we feel fairer), I would have been punished if I didn’t claim my father’s Italian assets in the following 3 months (which I don’t even know where to start), etc.

    It is sad to think on these terms… but for my parents, now they feel more at ease knowing that, when they go traveling, or if anything happens, now there is a box at home where they have kept all the relevant information and documentation. We also had some open conversations about death, what to do with the remains or the limits that my mother (as a doctor) really would like to put on her medical decisions. What if she doesn’t have the mind or the chance to make those decisions? For instance, if she ever has to be fed through IV because she can’t use get digestive system anymore, that’s a hard line for her. Or if she has to be interned.

    I understand how hard these conversations are, and I feel extremely lucky for having a family where death was always explained as a natural part of life. Something to inspire you, and hopefully not only because of the fear of it. I think it’s a message that I hope, one day, I’ll be able to convey with the same love and care to my offspring, as my parents did with me.

    Thanks for sharing, Marcus!

    1. I do remember you sharing this with me, an amazing and inspiring story! I can’t imagine what that drive to the hospital must have been like for you. I’m hoping to achieve the same level of love and care with my kiddos. I’ve neglected this subject for too long and am totally unprepared, though not for long as I’ve already started making change.

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