I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit.

― Chuck Yeager

 

Whatever Mr. Yeager’s personal beliefs might have been, there’s a valuable lesson to be learned by all here. Fear of dying is an innate aspect of being human.

Many scholars suspect that belief in a higher authority and of an afterlife stem from this inherent fear of death. Our anxiety about what happens after we die may have inspired us to fabricate a very comforting explanation; something to give us peace of mind when our loved ones pass away or when we face our own end.

Despite having that comfort, regardless of its reliability, we are still beholden to the life we live now. Having lofty notions about our afterlife should not make us value our present life any less. The fact is that we do not know what happens after we die. It’s a mystery. It could be lights out and that’s the end of it. Or it could be something entirely beyond our scope of tangible understanding. Regardless, what we do know for sure is that we live and we die and any idea beyond that is pure speculation.

You’re only guaranteed one life so respect it, cherish it and live it to the fullest. Whether that means breaking the sound barrier in a high speed jet, traveling the world, or trying a new restaurant with an old friend. Perhaps it means extending that understanding to others through love, kindness, and compassion.

Live your life. Value the lives of others. Don’t take any of it for granted.

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