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What I Want in The End: My Perspective on Life Based on Death

 
garden master
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However unusual this is, I kinda focus my life on how I want to feel when I die. I am aware that I am going to die at some point and somewhere, and I doubt I will have much of a choice when or how this will happen to me. As unfortunate as it is, I notice that people die, even though, they may not have done anything to cause their own death. Sometimes accidents happen, weather events, or what not. I would prefer to hope that I might not become another statistic of the whims of the world and universe, but things do happen, which is why there is a certain thing I seek in my life.

I strongly desire to live at peace with myself and the world, such that I would be okay with being taken away whenever that moment comes. For me, I believe I would have this peace of mind by living as closely to my values as possible, and I am still learning what those are. I believe this would probably involve living around and helping other people to some extent, because I think social interaction is nice. And I think this peace will involve growing and caring for some kind of plants and animals and making things, too.

I'm not entirely sure about all of this, but there is a certain substance to life that I am trying to find and/or make- this certain something that will give life meaning, so much meaning that I wouldn't feel like anything was missing when I die. I guess this is about as close as I can get to describing what I truly want.

Somethings on my to-do list that I think/hope that might bring me such fulfillment and peace:
1. Achieving some flavor of Gerthood
2. Working to make some community better
3. Nurturing other people and seeing them become better under my care
4. Regenerating damaged and abused land into productivity

I'm not sure what else and what flavors of these ideas to try, but this is kind of how I am approaching it. I believe life needs to be meaningful, and I am trying to find it. I want to believe it is somewhere under the large umbrella of permaculture.

What do you want in The End? How are you trying to find what sings for you?
 
pollinator
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Dave, 9/11 was my own wake up call. Knowing people were dying while I was witnessing the event really hit home. Dreams, hopes, plans, and futures were suddenly gone, never to return. I decided then & there to stop putting off my life. I broke away from the eastcoast rat race and started on my back-to-earth homestead farm.

Reconnecting with the earth's cycles and nature in general has given me the meaning in my life. It didn't happen instantly. I transitioned over a few years. But I've come to be satisfied and content with this lifestyle. As a result, I will never leave it. It is my meaning for life. I feel content to the point that I don't fear dying and won't have anything but trivial regrets. But then again, I'm in my 70s, so I know my end of life is coming up.

I like your list of 4. It's the same program I've been following. It's been rewarding and brought self contentment for me.

One thing that this permaculture & homesteading journey has shown me is that there are many different ways to die. Most are not good. But there are options. I believe in taking those options when it comes to my livestock. I have extended that belief to myself. I fully believe in my right to die. I don't see suicide or assisted suicide as being wrong. So I have made plans if the situation warrants. And I don't believe I will wake up in a better place, so the fear of being punished doesn't cause me to be afraid to seek a gentle death.

 
pollinator
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I see death as the end of the line. I also have no moral issues with people choosing to end their own lives. I think much of the aversion to it has to do with the idea that we belong to society and to our families . I suppose the lord of the manor or the slave master might be very upset if someone chose to end their life , if that person is considered property.
.....
I know many people who support assisted dying, but there are many different points of view concerning when and how and who should be able to decide or help decide.

I would like to be the first person on YouTube to voluntarily submit to a firing squad, should my condition warrant it. Or if I still have a bit of energy,  I'd like to fight Butterbean or a Cape buffalo. Even an old fashioned hanging may bring my family a few dollars from all of the hits it gets. Some people will think this is terrible. It's ok to have a solemn ceremony where we give grandpa an injection, but anything too entertaining is in bad taste and should therefore be banned. I assume that both me and the guy who takes the poison,  would be equally dead in the end. Which one would you remember?
 
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I assume that both me and the guy who takes the poison,  would be equally dead in the end. Which one would you remember?



...and is being remembered all that important?
We have craziness in the states all the time with young men who want to go out in a way that others will 'remember'...I've been thinking about this a lot lately

I think about end of life some but more similar to Dave's thoughts about 'life based on death'.

I think fear and feelings of vulnerability have a lot to do with how we look at death?

I like this topic and am glad there is participation on this subject....I'm a fond follower of ram dass, who has spent much of his time in end of life situations, usually cancers or age related...he says it is a wonderful experience and as close as any of us will be until we go ourselves.  


 
steward
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I worry about this conversation...and I think it's a good conversation.

I worry for a couple reasons (beyond Judith's very wise concern).

First, because I have a dear, dear friend whose daughter committed suicide when she was in her early twenties. So the idea of a young person talking about death reminds me of that, and it makes me want to ensure that focusing on death is a healthy thing, and not a symptom of depression or mental illness. I don't know how to ensure that, so I'm just going to leave it as a concern due to my very personal experience.

The second reason I worry is because many people, whether young and lacking skills, or middle aged and laid off, or a whole gamut of random circumstances, often need to do drudgery to get by. Put the opposite way, I think there is this tendency to buy in to "follow your bliss" and the money will follow, and I think this has led to a whole generation of young people who think flipping burgers is beneath them, or not in their value set, and they struggle with having or holding a job that isn't something that feels like a fit for them.

My opinion is that even if someone is living a Gert lifestyle, there is still manure of one kind or another to deal with. So there are drudgery tasks. And often worse kinds of drudgery tasks than manure (!!) just to pay the bills, save up for that Gert homestead purchase, or before building the skills to live whatever one's preferred lifestyle might be. Plus, some folks think that true avocation or job satisfaction comes from being skilled or an expert at something / anything and that just takes time.

So, I feel better having expressed those concerns up front. And then, along with others, I do so appreciate your list of four, and having those as guiding beacons for your decisions in life. This could help even a drudgery job feel more like a stepping stone to Gerthood and part of a plan, than just an abysmal circumstance counter to their values.

Interestingly, from what I've heard, I think imagining being dead and what your life was like in retrospect is an exercise in or from Holistic Management by Allan Savory, is it not? I haven't read this book yet, but one PDC that we hosted here included some aspects of Holistic Management and from what they told me, the students really loved it.

In the end, is it enough to be a humble, simple Gert or (   insert other name here   ) - just some decent person who nobody really knew what they were doing? (Especially in our overly media and social-media influenced world?)

I think so. Quiet lives matter too.

We don't all need to be Paul Wheaton, or ram dass, or (   insert well-known person name here   ) to feel we have accomplished something in life. A quiet, humble life well-lived is a beautiful thing. And could often be a more productive life in certain ways, too. Media/social media, and public persona efforts take a lot of time away from doing all the practical, hands-on things.

I guess I'm trying to express that while I think it's really fantastic to focus on deeply held, thoughtful and inspirational values; some times certain pragmatic aspects or needs of life might mean we do other things for an extended season of time. And I don't want anyone beating themselves up for not doing enough or not doing the "right" thing(s). It's sort of like learning to accept and be okay with one's own human flaws, or being okay with not being able to do everything we want to do. There is an acceptance and can be a joy to being in the moment, being human, and on this path at this time.

Shorter still:  joy and acceptance for the journey are what I wish to accompany a thoughtful life path.
 
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I am curious to know, what is this "gert"?
 
gardener
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This is a great thread, it is pertinent and wow can it cover a lot of territory.

I come from a family of warriors, both on my mother's side and my fathers side; My father, grand father, his father and grand father, all were soldiers either for their country or for their king/queen, some were even spies for the crown.
On my mothers side the same applies, mostly warriors.  This type of "family business", in my opinion, sets up the children to have a different mind set than most people in that you grow up knowing death is part of life and you accept that.
We in the nations have a warrior saying "Today is a good day to die" this saying accepts that when you go to battle, you are already dead, you just haven't laid down yet.
Commandos such as Green Berets, Rangers, Scout Snipers, and Seals, have to have this same mind set, you are going into danger, you might not come back on your own feet if you fear dying.
I experienced this in VietNam on several occasions, I believe I came out alive because I went into the situation knowing I was dead already, so I was able to have a less fearful POV of the situations of battle.
I have lost many friends, some to war, some to reckless drivers, some to terrorist attacks, some to murderers. It doesn't matter how it happened, those friends are in the spirit world now.

The age of technology has brought with it many problems, most seem to fall into the "lazy" part of the human psyche, find an under 20 year old that can add and subtract and make change with out the aid of a calculator, it is hard to do.
People fall into the "distracted to oblivious" state, you can stand at any intersection and observe this effect, people walking down the streets, eyes on their phone instead of where they are walking or driving.
I've even seen people this distracted walk out into traffic and not realize they are about to be struck by a vehicle with the right-of-way.
People seem to also think they will be remembered if they do something insane, like be a mass shooter, I doubt those people will be remembered, most will work hard to forget their names.

Not to long ago I was at a conclave where it was asked "what do you see for the future, of mankind?, of planet Earth?, for yourself?
Everyone attending had to write out our answers, below are mine.
I see mankind going downhill to the point of society collapse within the next 50 years, the loss of social mores or you could call it denial of social mores I suppose, is already showing that without these social tools in good working order, chaos will reign.
I see planet Earth struggling, until that point in time that humans do succeed in setting the stage for starvation of humans by loss of soil's ability to produce food. At that point, the earth mother will start her recovery unfettered by too many humans.
I see myself and Wolf as we are, fighting to remain here with tooth and nail, refusing to loose our hopes and dreams to illness.

 
pioneer
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Ed Belote wrote:I am curious to know, what is this "gert"?



The story of Gert - by Paul W
 
Trace Oswald
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
First, because I have a dear, dear friend whose daughter committed suicide when she was in her early twenties. So the idea of a young person talking about death reminds me of that, and it makes me want to ensure that focusing on death is a healthy thing, and not a symptom of depression or mental illness.



It's easy for people to be nonchalant about suicide.  I know I was.  And then my little sister took her own life in 2014 at 23 years old.  I can understand a person that is dying of an incurable disease taking their own life to end their misery, but I can also tell you firsthand that losing a loved one to suicide is a terrible, terrible thing and I'm quite certain that my family will never completely recover from the pain and guilt.  I hope no one here ever has to experience it for themselves.

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
A quiet, humble life well-lived is a beautiful thing.



I agree wholeheartedly with this statement.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Awe inspiring words Jocelyn, I totally agree with your thoughts on this.

In the current "greed above all else" majority mind set, I think we need more people who decide that living well while not banging the drum is a good way to live.
Wolf and I live a fairly reclusive life, I've given away quite a lot of research that probably would have made us quite well off financially but in my mind, the price for that would be far too hectic a life style for us to remain in our healthy relationship.
We both have jobs and our work mates seem to provide us with all the "human interaction" we require.
We do have a few friends, but we don't feel the need to surround ourselves with human interaction most of the time, we prefer to sit and sip some lemonade or iced tea and watch the wildlife that is finally deciding we are not threatening, come and partake of the mineral blocks, the fruits and other foods we grow just for the creatures of the earth mother to eat.
Our land is going into a land trust so that even after we move to the spirit world, our 4 legged and winged friends will still have food to eat and be safe from other humans.
 
garden master
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote: imagining being dead and what your life was like in retrospect



I started doing this a few years ago right before I turned 40, but imagining myself as an old man instead of dead, with mobility challenges and less energy, reflecting back on my life and what I did/didn't do. Without dwelling on it, I began to realize that, for averages sake, about half my life had already passed me by assuming I live into my 80's. I felt like I hadn't done much, just kinda on this treadmill of being an average american making money just to buy food and stuff, though I always had a garden to some extent during my 20 years as an adult. I began to develop a sense of urgency, and started to scramble to make choices now with the years flying by and try to set into motion a change, and change my life into something I found meaningful, and for me it's farming and being a steward to a piece of land that I can leave in better shape than I found it. Thankfully my wife also wants to have a farm and live a homestead lifestyle, and having a companion who has similar or the same interests/desires has helped. I didn't have an uphill battle or have to convince a reluctant spouse to buy land and move out of the city to a rural location.

A quiet, humble life well-lived is a beautiful thing



I whole heartedly agree, and this is the life I want to live. I feel like I'm finally at the physical or geographical location that suits me, and now I'm slowly changing and evolving, adapting to a simpler lifestyle. It's going to be a busy one with most hours of the day occupied. I now imagine my old man self looking back at the choice I made to move away from the city and live a life connected to nature and I believe I will be satisfied, reflecting on decades of ecological farming with care for the soil and animal welfare at the core of my values. I feel like living this life will make a difference, not only in my life but for someone else as well. My wife and I don't have children, and one day we will put this farm into a land trust, then before we die we will give it away to some young person who wants to farm.
 
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Great thread!
I think everyone has a philosophy of some sort, it is based on what you know about reality, the logic that connects everything and the ethics that follows, choosing what is the right thing to do.

The first two parts determine what you believe in, and the last depends also on your capacity to have the strength to follow the right path.

As long as I can remeber I have deep curiosity toward reality and the questions of meaning and purpose were alway with me.

Somehow I was not satisfied with the notion that these most important questions in life have no objectively true answer.
It is somehow complicated to put in words what exactly I believe in.
First I know death will be the end of the existence of my consciousness, I accept the given opportunity for existence as something sacred and very precious. I try to find myself as a tiny part of the puzzle of life in general, and I try to be worthy enough for the given opportunity.
I try to understand nature, and I think finding my place in it and being a positive element in it is the most real thing there is.

I kind of have a harsh view about the truth of my existence given the fact I have tried to eradicate any wishful thinking I possess.
I accept myself as just the random experiment nature is conducting in order to find something that works. I have no other choice but to give the best I can in that test life is.

Not long ago i have stumbled across the philosophy of stoicism which really make a great sense to me and I try to follow it. It really can help you finding your inner strenght, dignity and developing every positive human quality there is.
It has that notion "living according to nature", which means you need to make use of your most fine qualities nature provided you with - reason, intelligence, temperance etc.
It has bunch of great stuff in it, the only downside being it doesnt provide you with the answer what exactly is the goal in which you need to make use of your potential.

Using logic I never managed to find something more important than existence itself, everything life is and all qualities and characteristics of life leads to existence itself.
So the objective goal of life is the fight for a stable and secure existence, here comes the connection with permaculture and how I found it. I was searching for soil fertility, what that is, and how it works. Building society around perennial plants and having respect for the cycle of nutrients is a very big part of the meaning a human life can have, also science is another important element.

Living your life trying to develop any part of the puzzle which build a more stable existence for the future generations(it is all that will continue to exist and what matters) is a life worth living, it is how you pay for the great gift your own existence is. Having the strength to follow the right path is what will make you feel good about yourself and will give you the sense of worth.

I am not sure how good I managed to explain what I believe in, but without that type of reason I will be totally lost, and will waste all nature gave me.
 
pollinator
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Boris

> [no answers...]

Yes, that seems like a solid and difficult truth. Most people I know don't like it at all, but the basic idea's been respected for a long time. The smartest guy in the world, that brilliant cloud of depression, said long ago  "Vanity - all is vanity..."  

But I think we may encounter  _choices_. Paths to choose. And there is the concept of "practice", as in what committed people do trying to follow their chosen path. Practice is something we can do...

"There are many rooms in my father's house". That seems like a truth. Or per Buddhism, "all paths can lead to enlightenment".

But this also seems true: "Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it." There are many who go through it... And nothing to be done, it appears. And nothing to be done, in truth, I think. Things we do, do affect others, but: _We_ do not own or even know the true outcome of what we do. The "ends" are not ours, no matter what "means" we may try to apply.

I believe that, as much as anything else it may be, that quote from Matthew is a warning that arrogantly moving to do others' homework doesn't help - many will still go through the wide gate. Our responsibility is to choose _our_ road and hew to our true belief. Job survived his trials - his family did not. Lot survived, his city did not. We _will_, at times, see disaster impossible to understand or stop occurring before us. But our true path is still narrow and we need to try to follow it, regardless of what maelstrom we may find ourselves in. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...". For a moment, imagine those word, for real. That is one challenging walk. Then think - it seems somebody found they _did_ need to say those words. Maybe we can learn something from them. You know - BTDT?

Sorry, guys. <g> I actually didn't grew up religious.  Usual Sunday School stuff, waiting for the donuts after; just a fellow too smart for his own good, eventually programming computers, who, for some reason, tried very hard to see and never deny the truth. But in my 30s I read the Bible over and over for a while when I was having very very serious trouble - I needed a good place to put my mind and I respected how long it had been around and how many people held it in high regard. I found that a whole lot of what it related was recognizable truth, stuff I had seen myself, real time. So, since many people in this USA still have some familiarity with it, I use passages to help sketch out and support what I'm trying to say. It usually says it better than I do.

But I've also studied and practiced Buddhism and read in a few other faiths. It appears that most of the holy traditions of all cultures pretty much say the same things. Even pagan cultures and science. Ever try to get a real scientist to say he _knows_ this thing or that thing for certain?


Regards,
Rufus
 
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