POST UPDATE MONDAY SEPTEMBER 3, 2018: Claire Wineland passed away, with complete peace this last weekend. She will be remembered for her spirit. We should be reminded of the preciousness of life. Our condolences go out to Claire’s friends and family. We adored her and will remember her, in our hearts, for as long as our lives grace this Earth. Rest in Peace Claire.
I was inspired by a YouTube video that has been going viral for a while now. It’s of a young woman who is in the process of dying from Cystic Fibrosis. Her name is Claire and she has an incredible story. The video starts with a young woman who is sneaking away from the hospital to go to a Bernie Saunders rally. Claire is a YouTuber that has become very popular.
As I go through my own journey of accepting that one day, hopefully in the long-distant future, my life will come to an end, I force myself to ask difficult questions, to see different points of view, to become more pragmatic and accepting that there is not one right way to live, to vote, to be in our world. I am not afraid to tell you that I am afraid to die. This is part of my journey in this life. Sometimes that thought of it is so large that it prevents me from experiencing things that I might normally enjoy. Sometimes it prevents me from enjoying daily activities in life like going to the movies or going for a walk without a destination because I feel like I’m wasting time so at the end of this blog I ask you an important set of questions to contemplate for your own life, to help you contemplate your own inevitable death. This can feel scary sometimes, to face these questions and the realities that come from them; however, remember that this kind of contemplation is not about dying and your life ending but actually about living, not just going through the daily motions of life, but actually living your life and finding meaning in what you do, not being a passenger watching someone else drive the car but actually getting in the drivers seat and making choices.
Claire says, “Most 18 year olds do not have to deal with what I have to deal with specifically. No. But everyone has to deal with their own pain. The absolute truth is that I don’t think the pain I have been through is any more severe than the pain that any other individual has been through. It might be more physical but I have also had the incredible gift of having people in my life who have genuinely loved me that has given me so much mental stability and strength.” She is clearly mature beyond her years and in the video she is surrounded by a well-spoken younger sister and friends who are also facing what it means to be mortal.
“We can’t put ourselves in a bubble and we can’t detach from the world we live in.”
I agree with Claire. We live in a world where we put ourselves in a bubble and detach from it without realizing that our choices always have consequences. What the most connected people in the world know is that nothing happens unless something else happens… and something happened because something else happened. Cause and consequence or cause and effect. Clair goes on to say, “We have to realize that we are part of something bigger. What happens in the world, what happens in our society, very literally a part of us; because we are so influence by it and and it is so influenced by us; and yet we love to live in a bubble – we love to pretend like things that happen to us are individual and choices we make are individual and we are separate from the whole.”
What you do or experience in your life may not matter in the bigger scheme of things… I mean think about it. Most of us will never be known. Never be remembered. Never have a real and meaningful “bigger picture” impact in this great universe we live in. Life is, essentially for most of us, inconsequential. But this is beautiful because what it means is that we have a blank canvas in which to make a personally meaningful life. A life that impacts you and those in your inner circle in whom you are influenced by and in whom you influence. Claire says, “Let’s stop thinking about the death part of it because that doesn’t matter to me. We don’t have any control over it. But what we do have control over is whether or not we are proud of our own lives. That is something we have complete say over.”
Claire encourages us to find meaning within ourselves rather than only focussing on the goals we have that are outside of us. Constantly reaching for something outside of who you are. She says, “You are never going to be happy with what you get unless you are happy with what you have.” So you must be happy with what you have… right now. Just try it. Just try to be happy with what you have right now, with who you are, with the way you look, the education you have, what’s in your bank account. Can you even for just this moment, stop pursuing happiness and recognize that happiness is in the acceptance of what is right in front of you and inside you right now in this moment.
You can see Claire’s video below but first, the questions I ask myself that help me recognize that my life is impermanent.
- If someone handed you a piece of paper with the exact date and time you were going to die would you look at that piece of paper? Why or why not?
- If you knew that you were going to die next week, exactly seven days from now, at this hour, what would you do for the next seven days? Is there part of that you can do right now?
- What clarity can you find in knowing that you are going to one day die?
- What mistakes can you make to ensure you live a life of meaning? What mistakes have you already made?
Please enjoy Claire’s story…