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Living Life in the Shadow of Death
By Sheri Rosenthal
In the Toltec tradition the angel of death plays a significant
role in a warrior's life. If anyone can be depended upon to set
our priorities straight and keep our minds clear, it's death. Why?
Simply because we have a habit of proceeding in our lives as if
we have forever to live, acting as if things can wait until tomorrow
to be resolved. But this is not truth. We have no idea when our
last moment will be.
Recently one of my apprentices didn't show up for a group class
that I teach monthly in Atlanta. I was unable to reach her by phone
or by email. Luckily, I had her work number and was able to communicate
with a lovely woman in her office. With all the kindness in her
heart she informed me that my apprentice had passed away suddenly
and unexpectedly. I felt so blessed to be able to know this angel,
even if it was for a short period of time.
Her death touched me deeply. I again pondered what it means to
live as a warrior rather than a person sleep-walking through life.
Since I started the Toltec path I've changed so many of my nonchalant
behaviors and attitudes. I created a will so that my family has
instructions as to my wishes. My business is in neat files so that
anything that is needed can be easily found. Bills that have not
been paid are in a "to be paid file," and those that are
paid are neatly filed with the credit card that paid for them. At
the end of every day I clean my desk so that everything is in order.
These are some of the work things I do so that all transactions
are completed by days end.
In addition, I no longer leave life's issues unresolved. Back in
the old days if I had an argument with someone I would wait until
I calmed down to address the situation and often stewed about it
for long periods of time before I felt able to forgive and communicate
again. Now all scores are tallied and debts are paid at the end
of each day. A warrior never leaves business undone for others to
follow up on as he takes total responsibility for his or her life.
Ask yourself this question: Why argue with the people you love
if there is a possibility that you cannot make amends before you
die? Certainly any of us would be saddened if we had a fight with
a friend and one of us died before we could say "I'm sorry."
If we lived our lives as if they could end at any moment we would
be very careful about what we said and did. We wouldn't be working
under the assumption that we had forever to atone for our words
As an experiment, spend one day pretending that you are going to
die tomorrow. For one day communicate with people as if it were
your last day. Do your best to live your life fully and completely
for the day, savoring the sweet taste of life and those you love.
What you may find is that you aren't fully present in your life
and that you're waiting for a better day to come. Well guess what,
today is that better day and you might not get to experience tomorrow.
Living life from this point of view will empower you to find your
happiness and peace in every moment because who the heck wants to
waste their last day on earth in conflict with others? Not me!
Sheri Rosenthal DPM is a master Toltec teacher and author of The
Complete Idiot's Guide to Toltec Wisdom. Having trained with
don Miguel Ruiz, author of The
Four Agreements, she currently takes students on spiritual journeys,
works with personal apprentices and enjoys being extremely happy.
You can reach her at email@example.com