“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” Benjamin Franklin
There is a rule that Saint Benedict had that says simply, “Remember to keep death before your eyes daily.”
Early monks regarded such meditation on death as a way to live more fully and in a detached way. Many stories tell of an open and uncomplicated attitude when it came to death.
Here is a story from the desert fathers before the time of Benedict:
“News spread that an elder father lay dying in the desert of Skete. The brothers came, stood around his deathbed, clothed him and began to cry. But he opened his eyes and laughed. And he laughed again, and then again. The surprised brothers asked him, ‘Tell us, Abba, why do you laugh while we cry?’ He spoke, ‘I laughed at first because you fear death. Then I laughed because you are not ready. A third time I laughed because I am going from hard work to enter my rest – and you are crying about that!’ He then closed his eyes and died.”
So often I catch myself worrying about the smallest things in life. I can spend hours wasting my energy concerned about issues that can change in an instant and often work themselves out way before I get involved.
The story above reminded me, not so much to focus on my death, but to be aware of what is important in this moment.
Making a conscious effort daily to waste less time on issues that won’t matter on my deathbed really helps. In fact, I’m sure we would all laugh on our deathbed when we realise how much time we waste in this precious moment.