You are going to die.
This is not revelatory. It is a fact. What is also true, for most, is the uncertainty. You don’t know when or how your death will arrive. Are you prepared?
Preparing for death is a practice of life.
I recently watched one of my favourite bands (The Cure) live. I’d waited 35 years to see them and they did not disappoint. They’re old now but they played with the enthusiasm of youth. The show was meant to be an hour and a half. They played for two-and-a-half hours; a double encore. When they finished, I was finished. It was a good night but, as my mother would have said, “all good things must come to an end”. Yes, even The Cure.
A few days later a family friend was describing how her husband, who had been in a critical medical condition, had come back to life. She said it was his encore. He’d seen the infamous white light and chose instead to return to earth.
The problem is many of us don’t get an encore. When the curtain drops, that’s it. Kaput. Overs. Sometimes the curtain drops slowly. We watch it coming down on us or on those we love, and it’s painful. And there’s nothing we can do to stop it. We get angry, vicious, regretful, morose, to no avail. The curtain keeps dropping, and we haven’t had our encore. So, what’s the antidote?
We have to live our encore now, while we still can. That way if the curtain drops, we’re prepared. There are some rules though. 1) Encores have to contain some of your greatest hits, your best traits. They have to make you and others want to bop along. 2) Encores have to be conscious. They can’t fall in haphazardly all over the place. That’s not an encore then, it’s a mess. 3) Encores happen when people beg for more. They want more of you. 4) Encores are celebratory. You are celebrating the wonder that is you, and it’s so good you keep coming back.
Please don’t confuse an encore with immediate positivity or gratification. These are great if you have them, but they are prone to bouts of ephemerality. Encores are for every occasion, happy or sad. They occur in silence or frivolity. They can be lonely or they can be full of others.
Let’s be clear – the encore I’m talking about here is a metaphorical one. It means you being present in your life and not you wishing your life would start happening. An encore is where you take a stand, return to your stage, and perform. You show up. And it can happen right now.
An encore mentality is important because, as my mother would say, all good things must come to an end. Including you. Rather than spending your energy worrying about finding a cure to death, be more like The Cure and play a double encore. The crowd will love you. But, better still, you’ll love yourself.