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If you could live forever – would you want to?

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Written by Lifestyle Contributor, Darcy Thiel, MA, LMHC, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY State.

Would You Push It?

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a medical conference to hear Dr. BJ Miller speak. He is a Ted talk guy, has been on Oprah, and a bunch of other stuff. He was fabulous of course. While I have spoken at several of these same kinds of conferences and immerse myself in the topic daily, I still found myself furiously taking notes. He gave me permission to use some of his quips, provided I continue to build on the work we are trying to do. (By the way, I loved that response!)

Toward the end of his lecture, he asked the audience (about 200 I believe) if there was a button you could push right now and live forever, would you do it? Only two people raised their hands. I had never thought about it before, but figured it’s not really fair for me to look at my response because of my struggles with depression. When you hit the pits at times and wish you didn’t wake up in the morning, of course you wouldn’t push a button like that. But the vast majority in the room wouldn’t push it either, and I assume most of them don’t live with bouts of depression.

I thought this was fascinating.

He had challenged us as well with the thought that if we did live forever, would anything in life be meaningful anymore? When you give that pause, you realize that most of what gives meaning to us is in large part because life is fleeting, and people are mortal. That’s what makes precious, precious.

It remains a mystery then, why death is such a taboo topic. Still, in 2018. If most of us really don’t want to live forever, why won’t we acknowledge the concept? Research has shown that most folks aren’t scared so much of dying itself (especially those with faith) but of how we die. None of us wants to suffer if at all possible. Talking about death in advance enables us to have a much better experience when the time comes. If we fear a difficult death and talking about it helps us avoid that, then when the heck won’t we talk about it? It defies logic.

Last weekend I had a table at a health fair. It was at a church and they were hosting a blood drive. Pretty smart set up. This woman, who looked to be my age, walked by my table and glanced at my books. She literally wrinkled up her nose and waved her hand at me and said something like, “No way! I don’t want to read about that at all!” I told her as she walked quickly by that she was EXACTLY the person who needed to hear the message I had. “It’s ok to talk about death,” I called out as she kept walking.

Sigh.

I had to chuckle later though. Book sales are tough, and probably a thousand times more so when your books talk about death. They are still filled with positive messages, but people don’t know that. I rarely sell many at events. This sweet little older man came up to my table, a bit hunched over. He picked up my second book and I told him what it was about. He kind of petted the cover and said it was such a pretty picture and walked over to show his wife with a big smile on his face. Then they walked out.

There was no way I was going to run after him and let him know the books weren’t free. These events are starting to get costly (LOL). Well, if that’s what it takes to get the message out, I guess I’m in.

IT’S OK TO TALK ABOUT IT, especially if you’re like most of us and wouldn’t push that imaginary button.

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