Monday, June 25, 2007

Live like you're dying

Down at the bottom of this page, and every page on The Burning Taper, is a countdown timer set to December 21, 2012, the "Mayan end of time." That date is the last date on the Mayan calendar. Today, it says there are 2007 days left, and since this is the year 2007, what better time to talk about it? I mean, we only have five and a half years left.

You can find dozens of books and hundreds of websites devoted to explaining what the Mayan calendar ending on that date means. I have no idea what will happen that day — polar shifts and tsunamis, alien attacks, the return of Jesus, the Armageddon War, or Freemasons finally agreeing on what kind of barbecue sauce is best. Or it could be just like any other day, like Y2K, January 1, 2000 was.

I'm reminded of a cartoon I once saw depicting a loin-clothed stonemason, hammer and chisel in hand, standing in front of the rock the Mayan calendar is etched into.

An onlooker asks him, "Why does the calendar end on that date?"

"I ran out of room."

We're all going to run out of room one day.

None of us has a personal countdown timer. Our last day could be today, tomorrow, or 50 or even 100 years from now.

We have no guarantees. No one knows when the Reaper will come.

Saints and sages have given advice. "Live Like You Were Dying" was a popular country song by Tim McGraw. Jesus urged us not to worry about tomorrow. Eckhart Tolle suggests that anything other than living in the Now is insane. And Bro. Mark Twain wrote, "Sing like nobody's listening, dance like nobody's watching, love like you've never been hurt, and live like it's heaven on earth."

Somewhere in there is a message: Live like there is no tomorrow. Seize the day. Stop and smell the roses.

It will be Christmas 2012 before you know it.

Or not.

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  1. Hope this isn't a personal introspective and everything's okay?


  2. Widow's Son writes: "Live like you're dying."

    You are.

    If you're reading this, you're dying. Slowly, perhaps, or perhaps not, but death is an absolutely certain consequence of life.

    Generations of scientists and philosophers have pondered the question: "What distinguishes humans from all other animals?" At various times, the definitions have included the "ability to create and use tools," etc., but those definitions have fallen out of favor as more and more animals have been observed engaging in those allegedly "uniquely human" behaviors.

    Today, humanity is sometimes defined by its ability to foresee the future. All reasonable people realize that someday, their physical bodies will die. Some believe their spirits will be reincarnated, while others think their souls will go directly to heaven or hell, and many insist that any hope of "life after death" is just wishful thinking.

    In any event, it seems to me that too many people these days actually do "live like they're dying." They amass huge debts buying houses and cars they can't afford, they take extravagant vacations, dine daily at expensive restaurants, and never give any serious thought to how they're going to eventually settle their debts.

    Increasingly, we live in a society where people who earn $40k per year, buy $300k homes, new $50k automobiles every 4 years, and pay monthly utility bills in excess of $1k (electricity, water, cell phone, home phone, cable or satellite TV, Internet service, etc.). Their debts exceed their assets and their potential earnings for double-digit years to come, but they don't worry about it. In short, they "live like they're dying."

    I believe there's something seriously wrong with a society where people exist in a perpetual state of debt. It's very much like the days of old when miners and factory workers accumulated more debt to the "company store" than their wages. The longer a person worked, the more debt he accumulated, rather than working to accumulate assets.

    And our federal government is doing exactly the same thing. Today, our country is deeper in debt than it's ever been before, and the debt is accumulating at an ever-increasing rate. The amount of the annual US budget now dedicated to servicing the national debt has increased to over 20%, which means that more than a fifth of our entire national budget is simply wasted on interest payments to countries loaning us money, such as China and Japan, our two largest national creditors.

    At the end of 2006, the total U.S. public debt was $4.9 trillion, but that doesn't include the money owed by state and local governments, corporations, or individuals, nor does it include the money owed to Social Security beneficiaries in the future. If intragovernment debt obligations are included, the debt figure rises to $8.7 trillion, and if presently unfunded future obligations are added (i.e. Medicare and Social Security) the figure rises to a total of $59.1 Trillion.

    To see that as a real number, a trillion dollars is $1,000,000,000,000.00, which means that on average, every man, woman, and child in the U.S., now owes about $197,000 as his or her share of the national debt, exclusive of the personal debt they owe!

    Needless to say, that's a situation that can't continue. A lot of Americans have spent the last decades living like there's no tomorrow, but what if there is?

    It's like sitting at a bar running up a tab we know we can't pay, and hoping the bar will burn down before we have to settle up. How "prudent" is that, but perhaps more to the point, if a whole bar full of patrons are doing the same thing, what are the chances that sooner or later, at least one of them will set a trash can on fire?

    Live like you're dying? No, I think it's better to live like you're planning to keep living.

  3. I've always wondered how accurate that 12/21/2012 date is, considering how the current calendar system that we use has changed a few times in the last few thousand years.

  4. I like to think of 2012 is going to be a major shift in consciousness, rather than an absolute disaster (although it may take an absolute disaster for us to shift consciousness!).

    My birthday is Dec. 22, so it seems the end of time is a special gift pour moi.

    As for the real meaning of this post, I concur most whole heartedly.

  5. Haha, I love this blog!

    Anyways, I really like the views of Widow's son and anonymous. Very true, this country is in debt and people spend what they can't afford. I believe that "Live like you're dying" phrase refers more to meaning, enjoying the beauties of life and not the superfluous and trivial matters as we are taught in masonry. Our Family, Friends, and our experiences in life are things to be cherished.

    "Here lies the tragedy of our race: not that men are poor; all men know something of poverty. Not that men are wicked; who can claim to be good? Not that all men are ignorant; who can boast that he is wise? But that men are strangers!"

    -- Rev. Joseph Fort Newton

    I have taken a look into the Mayan culture and religion ect. Its very interesting and I find some similarities between them, the scriptures, and masonry. They were AMAZING stonemasons obviously as their monuments still stand today. Cutting stone bricks a certain way and using mortar. I would have to say the worlds best astronomers at the time. The placement of their temples aligned with the constellations, sun, and moon. Also, take a look into Popul Vuh, their stories and take a look into their creation myth. 2012 Refers NOT to the end of the world, but to the next shift. The planets will align and earth will enter into the 'dark spot' of the Milky Way. We are living in the stage where the gods created man out of wood. 2012 is when they make man out of a new material. Will we all become mutants and have powers like the X-Men?

  6. Not only you yourself are dying, but so are those around you. Those you love, and those you are angry with, and those you don't know. I'm more concerned with the first two, though I guess we shouldn't be indifferent to the last.
    Last October, my 30 year old daughter died unexpectedly between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Good and alive, then dead and gone. Many things left unsaid, undone and many things done and said that shouldn't have been.
    Live like you're dying. Live like those around you are dying. The regrets will be there, but they don't need to be overwhelming.

  7. Ok now I have "passage to bankok" stuck in my head (you had to be a teen in the late 70's or been a modern day warrior with a mean mean stride to get it)


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