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COLUMN: Death is certain, but a life lived to its fullest is a choice

Life is hard, sad, and downright depressing at times, but it is within our ability to live it to the fullest.
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Columnist Jesse Lipscombe

Losing someone you love is never easy, and it is especially hard when that loss comes at an unexpected time. Recently, I lost a very close cousin who passed at a young age, and it got me thinking about this journey of life that we are all collectively on. Jayson, my late cousin, showed up for everyone, all the time. If he came over for dinner, he was bringing wine and gifts for all the kids. If you needed to go somewhere, he would drive 45 minutes to take you, even when it was 30 minutes out of his way. 

It often takes a major shakeup in one’s life to put things in perspective. The global pandemic did that for so many of us, and there were some wonderful epiphanies that arose from it. People found ways to make things work that seemed impossible before. They took time to fertilize areas of their life that previously went ignored. It has been called a “collective awakening,” and I tend to agree. 

Birth and death often have this effect as well. Both of them guaranteed, and both coupled with their own gravitational life-pressures. Whether it is the arrival of a new human, the loss of a dear one, or a close call with mortality — each can offer us a new perspective on what is really important. My hope has always been to heed these lessons from other people’s experiences so I can grow from them without having to suffer through them. 

This last loss had me visualizing life as a raffle. A raffle where everyone is entered, and everyone gets to win. The prize is death and your number will be called — no matter what. We don’t know where we fall in the order, we don’t know when our number will be called. All we know for sure is that it will. Every second, 1.8 people win this raffle on this peculiar planet. What happens after our prize is awarded? That's still up for debate. However, what happens while we wait? That is up to us. 

While we wait, we have so many choices at our fingertips. We can choose to smile and we can choose to forgive. We can choose to be courageous and leap into new adventures, when our fears are telling us the opposite. I find myself constantly battling with self-doubt and worry when I am embarking on a new project, but I also know the inner joy it brings when I accomplish it. We can choose to see the good in everyone, and make efforts to do more for others.

Of course life is hard, sad, and downright depressing at times, but it is now, and it is ours.

In this moment, I choose to make it awesome, regardless of what may come my way, and if I have a little extra, I will make someone else’s life a little better too. 

We are all just waiting on our number to be called — we may as well show up for others, just like Jayson did for me. 

Jesse Lipscombe grew up in St. Albert and is an activist and co-founder of MakeItAwkward, which encourages people not to shy away from difficult conversations around race and inclusivity.