Everything you do is a matter of life and death. How many things? Everything. All things are a matter of life and death. A warrior knows this. The non-warrior may or may not. It is important to note that all things are a matter of life and death regardless of whether or not you are aware that this is so. Truth is unaffected by anyone's level of awareness or perception. Truth simply is.
C'mon, really? ALL things are a matter of life and death? I can hear you thinking that thought right now. Yes they are. They are because the warrior treats all things as the last time they will do, see, experience that thing. A warrior has faced the reality that death can come at any moment. This motivates them to treat things with much greater deference, live with much more honor, and to enjoy the many blessings of life.
I want you to imagine with me that you are living in 13th century, feudal Japan. You are a young 20-something who is a Samurai and you are a retainer of a great feudal lord (daimyo). One day, you suddenly receive word from an official messenger that your lord needs your services in combat and you are to make haste to leave immediately. You must go and fight for your lord. How do you think you will say your goodbyes to your family that day compared to other days? How much do you think you will value putting on your armor? How much do you think you will value that last glance of your home?
The warrior does his/her best to treat every moment just like this. As if they had been called off to battle; the battle that will ultimately cost them their life. This level of seriousness does many things to a person who adopts this as a daily attitude. Here are just a few of those things:
1) It makes you appreciate the moment. Since every moment is treated like your last, you appreciate everything to a much greater degree. A beautiful sunset is considered the last one you will see, so you enjoy it more. A kiss between a family member or lover is considered the last kiss you will ever have so it is enjoyed and treasured immensely.
2) It gives you perspective. Imagine again with me, that you were to die tomorrow. Would you waste your last 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds on petty drama or quarrels? The warrior does not get caught up in petty drama because they treat each day as their last. Would you really spend your last time on earth with petty family bickering or quarreling with friends?
3) It will change the way you treat people. You will begin to treat people with more kindness and benevolence because each interaction with someone is viewed as your final interaction. This applies especially to people we are close to (family and friends). You tend to take the people closest to you for granted and the warrior remedies this by believing that each interaction with them will be their last. You will hug longer, kiss softer, speak kinder and show more compassion than if you believe you will always have tomorrow to make your wrongs of today better. The warrior knows they are guaranteed no tomorrows.
4) It will change the way you treat yourself. If you knew you were to die tomorrow, wouldn't you be kinder towards yourself? Wouldn't you give yourself more credit and extend yourself more grace? I would. I would not spend my last 86,400 seconds berating myself for all the things I failed to do or all the things I did wrong. If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, I would spend my time enjoying my last moments with my family and close friends. We would laugh, tell stories of the past, create new moments in the present and say our final goodbyes with passion and love.
Keeping death constantly before your eyes serves to inspire rather than to demotivate. It is one of the core attitudes behind why warriors of the past included things like honor, chivalry, and formalities into their codes of conduct; the presence of death motivated them to live such a life. Knowing they could die at any moment, etiquette was paramount, honor was integral and living a life of passion and vibrant dedication to cause, country, family and self naturally flowed from keeping death ever-present before their minds.
Everything is a matter of life and death because you don't know what moment is your last. Do not live in denial and pretend to be immortal. Time has not lost a battle with any human; it will always win. Instead of denying death, embrace death. Embrace it inasmuch as you are to use death as a motivator to live a life of passion. A life of Warriorhood. Since each day could be your last, treat it as such and watch how your attitude towards life, people and things change.
Always LIVING in the battleground,
The Warrior Speaker Blog is a collection of warrior lessons Alexander has learned in addition to practical information about protecting yourself and all that you deem most personal.