I have nine lives. At least nine in this lifetime, from what I understand. And probably many more if I count other lifetimes.
Why do I die so many times?
Because I need to die to live.
The aspects of me that are no longer working or are no longer needed have to die, so that I can evolve. And the only way to live is to evolve.
But, often we don’t know what is no longer working or are no longer needed. Most of us would be hard-pressed to consciously make the decision to let go of these aspects through death. And often we don’t need to make such decisions as life does this for us.
I don’t like to die. In fact, I’m petrified every time I’m about to die.
I fight for my dear life and I try to hold on to it with all the willpower and might I can conjure. Yet, all the willpower and strength in the world are no match for the inevitable.
You may be wondering – do I mean literal death or figurative death?
To answer this, let’s first examine what death is.
What is death?
What is death?
It’s the dismantling of your current form. In death, your body and mind (as you know it) shut down and cease to function.
Physically, your heartbeat, brain activity and breathing come to an end.
Mentally, you are forced to let go of everything you know and are familiar with.
In death, your reality dismantles along with your form.
Death is a mysterious journey into the unknown. Although, some question whether or not there is a journey afterwards and if it is the ultimate end to our existence?
This question arises because often we can’t see or know what exists in the hereafter.
But, life repeatedly teaches and shows us that just because we can’t see, know or comprehend something, it doesn’t mean that the “unseen” and the “unknown” don’t exist.
If anything, there’s very little that we do know in our current lives.
We seldom even know what’s next in our day-to-day lives. We are constantly at the mercy of not knowing what’s next. Even right now, as I ponder on this topic, I don’t know how this written piece will unfold. In other words, we live in an ongoing state of uncertainty.
Any certainty in our lives is a mere illusion.
Certainty is familiarity or knowing for sure what the outcome will be and how the future will pan out. Anyone who is reading this has experienced, at one point or another, how familiarity can disappear in the blink of any eye.
If you search for the meaning of “certainty”, the following are some common definitions that appear online:
“State of being definite or of having no doubts at all about something” – Collins English Dictionary
“State of being completely confident or having no doubt about something” – Cambridge English Dictionary
“Firm conviction that something is the case” – Oxford Dictionary
“A fact about which there is no doubt” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Drawing from the above definitions about certainty, how many times have we been proven wrong regarding something that we were confident about and had no doubts about? Especially something for which we felt a firm conviction.
If your answer is never, you are either lying or you are delusional.
We’ve all been proven wrong about different aspects of our lives that we were certain about.
In my case, I was certain that mommy would feed me tuna tonight, but she served me salmon instead, even though it’s “Tuna Tuesday”. And she thought that I didn’t even notice.
I could of course illustrate countless examples of how things that you were certain about turned out differently.
It could’ve been a relationship that ended, which you were certain would last. A career that was supposed to transpire in ways you envisioned, but it didn’t. Beliefs you vehemently held as truth, which crumbled right before your eyes.
Life brings forth shifting circumstances that force us to question our certainty about reality.
When circumstances that we are familiar with and circumstances that shape our reality collapse, a part of us dies. This could’ve been a part that we unquestioningly regarded as our ultimate reality…until it disappeared of course.
The day I died
I remember when I first met mommy as a tiny kitten. My reality was the animal shelter I was living in. I screeched and kicked with my little paws when I was taken out of my cage. I couldn’t bear to let go of my friends and my old life in the shelter.
The shelter was my home. As far back as I can remember in my conscious mind, the shelter was my only place of familiarity.
I never experienced so much light, sights and sounds as I was being taken to my “new home”. I never even knew that there were other homes.
The experience was dizzying…
My heart was pounding at such a rapid pace that it felt like it would fly out of my tiny chest. I was gasping for air and hyperventilating during the ride to my new home. The experience was overwhelming for all my senses. In fact, it was traumatizing. I couldn’t grasp what was happening around me. I felt my body and mind shutting down.
The reality I knew and understood collapsed! The world of that tiny kitten was no more. And that tiny kitten I used to be…died.
Sometimes dead is better
At first, I was confused, scared and withdrawn in my new home. I couldn’t understand where I was and what I was supposed to do here.
Then something happened…
Despite the confusion and fear, I realized that my new home wasn’t that bad after all. In fact, I liked my new home much more with so much space and so many things to do and see.
Gradually, I no longer needed to know where I was, why I got there and what I’m supposed to do. I felt I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
And what surprised me the most was that I had never experienced as much love as I now felt from mommy in my new home.
I wasn’t even capable of fathoming this “new reality” before. I was reborn into this new world. From time to time when I reflect on the past, I find myself echoing the sentiments from Stephen King’s Pet Sematary that “sometimes dead is better.”
I still grieve losing my old home and my friends at the shelter. To this day, I wonder where my old friends are. I wonder if they wonder about me. Do they know that there are other realities out there?
This sense of loss of my old life opened a portal for introspection and reflection. I realize now that the old reality needed to die, so that I could be reborn into this new reality.
I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend this new reality if anyone even tried to explain this to me before. I definitely wouldn’t have volunteered to let go of my old life to come into this new one. The only way I could understand and experience this new life was by experiencing the death of my old life.
The old me needed to die, so that I could expand my horizons. And the only way we can live is by expanding our horizons.
Life will never let us remain stagnant forever in one reality.
Even if the process of expansion and transformation was painful and frightening, I wouldn’t want to go back to a world where I was unaware of other experiences that were outside the realm of my immediate reality.
I was comfortable in my old world at that time. But knowing what I now know, I’m glad that the comfort was yanked out right before my eyes for my evolution.
I know that even this present reality I’m experiencing will dismantle one day. I’ll be forced to plunge into an epic journey towards the unknown once again whether I want it or not.
Death and rebirth, both figuratively and literally speaking, allow us to experience all dimensions of our sacred lives, accompanied by joy, sadness, excitement, anger, fear, love and all ranges of emotions.
My old life in the shelter now feels like a different life from the past.
Finite reality, infinite existence
For you, the “current life” you are experiencing has also gone through many stages and chapters. When you look back at certain phases of your life, it could feel like a different life altogether that died.
Some chapters and phases, regardless of how desperately you tried to hold on to them, had to die for your transformation.
Your old reality could not continue in the same sphere where a new reality was waiting for you, no matter how comfortable you were in the past.
Your reality may be finite, but your existence is not.
The old set of circumstances could not survive for you to come into existence under a new set of circumstances. Like a cramped and cluttered room, many things had to go to make space for new things. And often, life does this spring cleaning on our behalf.
Needless to say, letting go of things that we are forced to release often doesn’t feel good. If anything, having to let go of what we cherish the most, especially loved ones, can bring tremendous suffering.
But, this suffering is also a part of our expansion. The process of expansion entails experiencing life in its many forms, with joy, happiness, pain, rage, confusion, hate, fear, boredom, love and other emotions being part of the mixture.
The death of your old lives could’ve been painful, but it didn’t annihilate your existence.
You learned to live again, even though you didn’t know you could. To your surprise, you may have even discovered joy and love again, even if you thought it was impossible.
You couldn’t have come to this state of re-discovering joy, love and meaning after pain and suffering from loss, if it wasn’t for death. And sometimes, even in the midst of suffering and pain, you may have experienced flickers of joy, love and meaning.
This is when you realize that death has enabled you to evolve into this state of re-discovery. And you live to share this understanding with others – that they will also be reborn over and over again to live life in its many spectrum, no matter how many times death shows up and no matter how painful death may seem.
The cycle of death and rebirth ensures that you experience all facets of life because that is the only way you can truly live. Only by dying, you can live again to get new insights and perspectives that are necessary for your growth.
You’ve died many times. You’re supposed to die many times and be reborn. Life is a continuous journey of rebirth.
I’ll die again. And I’m both terrified and excited!
With loving purrrs,
Featured photo on top by Cocoparisienne on Pixabay.com
4 thoughts on “We must die to live”
What an insightful article about death and rebirth! I loved that it was written from the kitten’s perspective!
Such a lovely piece – it’s the third time I read it!
Thanks very much! This made my day! I’m so happy that you enjoyed this piece :).