It’s easy to see death as this thing that lies off in the distant future. Even those of us who choose not to live in denial of our mortality can be guilty of this. We think of dying as an event that happens to us. It’s stationary—whatever date it will happen at—and we’re moving towards it, slowly or quickly, depending on our age and health.
Seneca felt that this was the wrong way to think about it, that it was a mistaken view that enabled many bad habits and much bad living. Instead, he said, death was a process—it was happening to us right now. We are dying every day, he said. Even as you read this email, time is passing that you will never get back. That time, he said, belongs to death.
Powerful, right? Death doesn’t lie off in the distance. It’s with us right now. It’s the second hand on the clock. It’s the setting sun. As the arrow of time moves, death follows, claiming every moment that has passed. What ought we do about it? The answer is live. Live while you can. Put nothing off. Leave nothing unfinished. Seize it while it still belongs to us.