I remember the last time I felt at complete peace: I was driving home at night with the windows down. A good song was playing on the radio. Some things had happened that day—although I don’t remember if they were good or bad—but none of that mattered in that moment.
I was feeling good. I was happy. Content. Relaxed. And then I started to think about how this moment, and all its good feelings, would end. I would get home, eat dinner, fall asleep, and wake up to a new day with a whole new set of experiences.
Would they be good? Bad? What about other possibilities? I mean, I could die at any moment. What if I died tomorrow? If I did, then these experiences I am having, good or bad, will end.
At this point, I was no longer feeling content and at peace. I was sad. My thoughts about life and the meaning I attached to it had driven me into thinking about how it will all inevitably end.
And then I realized that what I have—experience itself—is the most precious thing anyone could ever have. The fact that I can take in the world around me and form ideas, opinions, and judgements about it and interact with it, which in turn impacts other people, is incredible.
Most of what I do today won’t matter tomorrow. The projects I complete at work won’t matter in a few months. Years from now, I will likely not remember a single thing I have done today. A century from now pretty much all of us will be dead and forgotten. The Earth will eventually be torn apart and the heat death of the universe will occur.
Those are the facts. And yet, sitting in my car with the radio blaring and the wind blowing past my face, this line of fresh thoughts didn’t phase me. It gave me peace. I can be sad that I will die someday, and being able to experience that feeling is part of something much bigger than myself or my fleeting moment in time.