When I Die

He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet.

Ralph, The Lord of the Flies

Begin with the end in mind.

When I die.

The finality of the thought put down on paper has an odd peacefulness about the assurance of the event amidst life’s countless unexpected and unknown turn of events.

When I die.

In the West, our modern healthcare and developments have removed death from our sight, and a disillusion has quietly settled over our eyes and mind to believe that death is a far-removed occurrence and it often catches many by surprise. But there is nothing more certain about life than the fact that we will all die. When that will happen to whom, no one can predict (except maybe actuaries working at life insurance companies).

When I die… When I die.

Despite such a finality to life as we know it, the big and dark unknown of what comes next is the big life question that countless philosophers, theologians, and scientists have sought to answer. While I have some speculation on the matter, I only have full confidence to speak on what happens on this side of heaven and earth and from that lens, death is the end and where I shall begin.

When I die.

When I die, I want to die with a strong and healthy body. Despite the odds of getting cancer or the myriad of terminal illnesses these days, I want to do my best to prevent the most common issues, such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, and the most overlooked risk factor to a healthy life, stress. I don’t need to look like a body builder, but I want a strong heart, powerful lungs, stable core, and clean blood. I want to die without major complications, without having to be bedridden in a hospital or at home. I want to be able to move freely, enjoy walks, give hugs, and smile with a full set of teeth. I want to die saying, I have honoured and taken good care of my body and the gift it has given me since my youth to whatever older age.

When I die, I want to die with a heart full of peace and love. I want to die without harbouring any resent towards anyone. I want to die knowing that I loved my wife with all my heart, that I have committed myself to her since we first said, “I do.” I want to die having those around me feeling known and loved by me. I want my daughter to not have any daddy issues and grow up being covered in love, balanced with discipline and self-control, and to be a highly functioning person in the society she chooses to be a part of. I want my family members to feel as if they had a good son and son-in-law. I want my brother and brother-in-law to feel as if they had a good brother. I want my friends to feel that I have put them first and loved them before they chose to love me. I want my neighbours to feel loved as how I have loved myself. I want those whom I have come across to have known a little bit more goodness in their lives. I don’t need to be the most liked person, nor be known as the friendliest or happiest. I want to be remembered as someone who has enriched the lives of others within my circle of influence.

When I die, I want to die with a sharp and clear mind. I want to remember all the great memories, both happy and challenging times of life. I want to be able to ponder the greater mysteries of this life. I hope to have answered some of the complexities with greater assurance, yet have a humble curiosity, letting go of the unnecessary pursuits from my youth. When I die, I want to have read all the books I desired. I want to have travelled the many adventures through space, wilderness, and fantasy lands. I want to have met the many great men and women of past. I want to know the powers of the “Masters of the Universe.” When I die, I hope to have left some small value to the next generation, to the ongoing narrative of history, leaving a bit of the culture and perspective of the era I lived in. I hope my thoughts can be transmitted in whatever medium to give inspiration, thought, and challenge to even one other person. I hope the numerous, endless nights of swimming in my own thoughts will not be a waste. Perhaps there are a handful of golden nuggets in the quagmire of opinions. When I die, I hope to still have had an open-mind, not bent on my own ways or become cynical and stale. I want to die, still asking questions and listening to the many stories and experiences others all have.

When I die, I want to die by living a life centred around the rhythm of Sabbath. I want my work to be worshipful and my days of rest to be honouring to the Creator God. I want to die knowing the mystery of God a little more. I want to die with the hope of hearing, “good and faithful servant.” When I die, I hope my theological understanding of life may not be stagnant, but alive and vibrant as the days of my youth. I hope those around me may have benefited from fresh perspective and will have deepened their relation with a living God. When I die, I hope many will be practicing radically, ordinary hospitality. I hope there will be no Sunday-Monday gap. I hope tithing is more than 10% of post-tax income. I hope truncated versions of religion will have more meat around the bones. I hope when I die, at the least, those who have ears to hear would have benefited from the seemingly, meaningless pursuit and journey I am on. I hope when I die, I will not have turned from faith, regardless of the endless ideologies being thrown my way. I hope I can keep my soul pure and centred around Creator God, in anticipation of Jesus to usher in the new creation, and bringing the ultimate finality to death and to new life.

When I die.

I want to have no regrets. And that means now, since I don’t know when I will die. I want to live this way now.

This goal is not a destination. The goal is a direction.

I want to participate in creating a new creation in this manner, with my whole life and at the end of it, to be satisfied, having done my best to live a full life, not taking any of it for granted.

When I die.


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