Tonight, I watched Interstellar. It is one of my favorite movies of all time for a myriad of reasons, which I shall not get into for this blog, because that is an entire blog set in and of itself. While watching it, Michael Caine (who plays Professor Brand) has an absolutely fantastic line, “I’m not afraid of death, I’m afraid of time.” I immediately had to find the remote, that I lost once again, pause the movie, grab the laptop, and open up Word. It is fascinating to me because it holds so much truth within such a short phrase. It may even become one of my new favorite phrases of all time.
What an interesting thought. To not be afraid of death, yet to be afraid of time.
Thanatophobia is the actual term for an extreme fear of death or the dying process. Clevelandclinic.org states that some of the symptoms can show to be
- avoiding places or situations that may seem dangerous
- becoming overly obsessed with your health and staying healthy
- constantly checking for signs of illness
- development of hypochondriasis- disorder that causes excessive worry about becoming ill
Thanatophobia (fear of death): Symptoms & treatments. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22830-thanatophobia-fear-of-death
Yet death is a cycle of life. Without death of one thing, there is no life of another. Death is to be honored and not shunned away as American culture does. If you look at death as an intermediary state between physical and non-physical death is just a steppingstone between one realm or dimension into the next.
In a sense, if you are a being that exists outside of time and decide that you wish to live a life here on this earth in the third dimension, then you would be born into this world. You would step into a life, live the life as a third dimensional human and experience all that there is to experience in this set amount of time. When death comes for this third dimensional life, then you would take off the clothes of third dimension and step back into the dimension which you came from. Therefore, death is not something to be feared, rather a transition.
Time, however, is much different. If you were to set about doing something very large for your life and were unaware of how much time you had to do it, then you would fear time. Your life would become an endless battle against time and how to create the thing that you wish to create. Yet time is always against you because every breath you take and ever moment you experience, is one less moment that you have less here on this earth plane.
To fear time is to fear the loss of capability of what you could have. Living in the past or living in the future is a way to waste time because the only time that you truly have, is the present.
I often get lost in this cycle myself. The actual fear of death does not affect me because I see death often. Just yesterday, a patient died while I was trying to help them with their medical emergency. Over my career, I have seen many ways in which people die, whether it be by their hand, another’s actions, or natural causes. I have also sat with those who have multiple forms of cancer and listened to them speak. They know that they are dying, and their days are numbered, yet are not afraid of dying. They accept death and embrace the time that they have.
What I fear, is loss or wasted time. I constantly battle in my head that I am not doing enough with the time that I have. I get lost in ideas of what I could be doing but often forget that I am only human and physically incapable of doing eighteen things at once with 100% accuracy. I inevitably end up failing at all of them instead of just doing one thing at a time, really well.
I sink into depression and feel as though I am not measuring up to a version of myself that I wish I could be. Instead of embracing the amazing person that I know I am, I settle for the crap version of me that will never live up to what I am sure is someone else’s expectation of who they think that I should be. While I do not know who this mystery person is, and they probably have the best of intentions, they forget that I, just as everyone else, am human. I am so hyper focused on all that I could be doing that I often forget to live in the moment and enjoy the moment that is happening right in front of me. I set big dreams and destinations but often get lost in the weeds of those dreams instead of just embracing the journey.
It seems then that the antidote to the fear of death and the fear of time is to embrace each and every moment that we have here and now. That is why such amazing books like The Power of Now resonate so much with people. All we were ever promised is the ever-fading present moment. Whether it be a good moment, a bad moment, or even a neutral moment, for a brief moment, we are fully and truly alive.
A constant reminder to myself on days like today and times when I forget (usually daily) be present and be truly alive.