I’m not afraid of dying; I’m afraid of not living.
I was listening to a podcast the other day and I heard the words “Memento Mori.” For those of you who do not speak Latin, this phrase means “remember that you have to die.” There are close to 8 billion people on this earth at this moment. All belonging to different nationalities, cultures, religions, and languages. But the two things every human has had in common since Creation is that all have been born and all will one day die. What we do with the time in between those two events is completely up to us. And I know you know this. We all know we are going to die. We don’t need to be told that. But for some reason, even with this knowledge, we never seem to actually apply the concept of death to our lives. I mean, if God told you right now that you had one more week to live, you probably would not spend that week playing video games and watching Netflix. But that’s exactly what I did last week. And if I die today, then I spent the last week of my life doing nothing that in any way benefited my life or the lives of those around me.
So what is it that I’m doing? Why do I insist on living a mediocre life? Why do I insist on living a safe life? For those of you who know me personally, you know that I do not in any way believe in coincidences. I don’t believe anything happens by chance. Especially life itself. I believe everything has a purpose. Yet I have noticed that many of us live life with no purpose and with no passion. Perhaps we lost our purpose; perhaps we never found our purpose in the first place. But many of us seem to simply go through the motions of the everyday grind of life, never addressing what it is we are living for. We make good grades so we can go to a good school so we can get a good job so we can make good money so we can…live a good life. But is it really?
When I was younger I had dreams of fighting bad guys and saving the damsel in distress. I dreamed of a life of adventure and fulfillment. But as of right now, the closest I am to fighting bad guys is when I play Call of Duty. And don’t even get me started on the damsel in distress–because it takes me about two hours just to get the nerve to talk to a girl. My point here is this: every single one of us has a passion. A desire. A purpose. But rather than letting that purpose cultivate and transform us, we conform to society and decide to live safe. We decide to follow in the footsteps of all those around us, rather than creating our own footsteps for others to follow. We decide to not take risks, and to not take chances. We begin to live our lives in a cage, like a lion. But a lion was never meant to live in a cage–a lion was meant to take charge of its life, to be bold and take risks. In the words of John Eldredge, “after years of living in a cage, a lion no longer believes he is a lion–and a man no longer believes he is a man.” We are alive–but for what? We do the same menial tasks every day. We spend so much time stressing over such minute matters that we often forget to even address the important questions and concerns in life. We each are only given one life. And if we miss out on following the purpose and passion deep within us, then we have lived someone else’s life. Most of us know our passion. We have an idea of our purpose. But we are hindered by the concepts of risk and discomfort. Rather than choosing to make the most of life, we choose to turn our backs on our purpose and inner passions in exchange for safety and mediocrity.
William Wallace said it best in the movie Braveheart when he said, “Every man dies, but not every man truly lives.” I am surrounded by men who have incredible finances, but broken dreams. I am surrounded by teenagers who have put to death their own dreams and instead embraced the dreams given to them by their parents. Many have died at the age of eighteen, yet were not buried until they were eighty. So I encourage all of you, including myself, to pick a fight. Pick something deep within your heart that is worth fighting for. An abstract idea. A passion for greatness. For isn’t that the purpose of all of us? To choose something worth fighting for? And after close examination, you will realize your chosen purpose is no choice at all. It is an obligation–much like death.