How Do I Benefit from both Eastern and Western Cultures to Rethink About “Death”, and To Live Fully

 

It’s just that…

It’s just like that, there’s no perfect human being in this world, the same goes for the culture. There are “good” and “bad” things about each culture. As the Ancient Chinese saying goes, Take the essence and discard the dregs (取其精华,去其糟粕).

Use those essence to enhance and blossom as a human-being, and to help others to learn and grow, so that we could blossom together one day.

 
 

Learn to Accept Everything the Way it is…

As someone who’s been exposed to both eastern and western culture, I was lucky to develop a critical eye towards both cultures and to learn the importance of love and compassion, which has been advocated a lot in the west; as well as being humble and respectful all the time towards everything in this world, which are the most important principle I’ve learned from the eastern culture. Altogether, they've helped to shape who I am and guide me to live a fulfilling life.


Stay Comfortable with the Discomfort and Reverse Thinking

In my culture, “death” is a taboo word of all occasion. For thousands of years, it had been a constant theme for those Ancient Chinese emperors to search for longevity and immortality. It was deeply rooted in our culture that accepting death was usually tough.

You are not supposed to mention this word “死/死亡 (to die)” or any other related words, such as “鬼/鬼魂 (ghost)”, especially in front of the old. My mom always told me not to mention anything “death” related to my grandpa every time we visited him in the last few years before he passed away. I asked why, and my mom said because the old are afraid of hearing the word “death”.

It was still not persuasive enough for me to understand why people are so afraid of death as if it’s something that wouldn’t happen if we don’t mention or face it. We are happy when there’s a newborn in our family, but we are so upset when someone dies. It’s not that we should not be emotional towards both occasions; of course, we should be happy when there’s a new life and mourn for someone’s death, but I wondered if we could adopt an attitude and have the courage and confidence to see and accept everything the way it is.

When I studied Spanish as a minor in college, we were introduced about the Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. (A Mexican holiday to celebrate the spiritual journey of the dead in the families, and they even mock with those skeletons) when we were learning about the Hispanic culture. It was almost like a game-changer for me and has brought me new perspectives on how we view things. As if everything was celebratory in Mexican culture, given that my Spanish teacher even told us to look view “los examanes (exams)” as “las celebraciónes (celebrations)”. That was the moment I started to rethink and question some of the concepts that I was told since childhood.

And I started to ask,

Why can’t we accept the death the same way as birth?

Birth and death are both parts of the natural process of life; we are all walking towards the same destination, and it is unavoidable — no matter who you are, how much money you’ve earned, or how much fame you’ve gained in your whole life. Nothing tangible can be taken away with you when you die. You come to the world with nothing, and you leave the world with nada 🤷‍♀️.

Most of all, I believe that,

Avoidance would not make whatever’s doom to happen from not happening, it is merely a way for self-deceiving.

A famous Indian Yogi Sadhguru once said,

We are all like those pop-ups in our screens, you pop-up and pop-out. We are all going to the same destination. Life is all about how intense and beautifully you’ve lived.

I’m sure there will be people out there thinking I must be a pessimistic person, all I wanna say is that “admitting the fact that we are all gonna die” is not pessimism. On the contrary, I feel lucky to have this courage to think of a concept that most people are afraid of at a fair young age, which helps me find the clarity of my life, to push myself to think what really matters to me and to work my way towards a meaningful life.

It is only by understanding what life is that I can start to live my life fully.

Thinking reversely certainly has allowed me to ask myself those big/hard questions, such as what would be the most important thing for me to do this moment and on, knowing that I am going to die one day.

Of course, I did not have the answer immediately, as it took me years to walk this self-discovery journey (I’m still learning and growing to this day), and I have to admit I would not achieve what I’ve got without the help of those people I met.

Still, I am glad that at least I have some idea to start with and the courage to put fear beyond, starting to explore the breadth and depth of life even further. I allow myself to fail, to stumble and fall, I’m giving myself time to experiment and pivot, and to figure things out, as long as I know the things I am doing matter to me and are valuable to the world, and would help me get closer to my purpose for life.

Time is fair to everyone, no matter who we are.

I would not be wasting time on the “wrong” things, meaning those things you know you are not supposed to do at the moment, but do regardless because you haven’t had the clarity about what you want yet or you don’t know what else to do. I don’t know when will you find your callings, cuz the timing would be different for everyone. But one thing I constantly tell myself to find that Northstar✨ is — Just start to do something, whatever interests you, the same time knowing that every second we live, we are getting closer to the coffin, period.

Also, I do know that spending more time on Netflix, or endlessly watching hilarious cat and dog videos would not likely to tell us the purpose for life, let alone get ourselves out of the rut; I can assure you that watching how people living in a luxurious lifestyle, seeing them showing off the wealth would not make you live like them all of a sudden, but more likely to upset you because you might tend to think about the unfairness between you and them.

Notice that I use “more”, “endless” in those examples, the point here is not to say banning yourself from watching Netflix, browsing social media, or cutting off all your entertainment entirely from your current life. Netflix, Facebook, Twitter can all be good to help us to elevate and transform our lives, depending on how we use them and what contents you are consuming,

watching Netflix could help you to learn and grow, and there are lots of great influencers who are leveraging social media to expand their influence and sharing their precious life lessons with us young people that we wouldn’t otherwise learn from.

The point here is to let you know the importance of having the right judgment on your own, doing things in a moderate amount and having a balance.

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I sincerely wish all of you could live the life you want, we are ALL deserving to live in abundance, whatever that means to you. I should not and will not be the person to decide, but YOU are. If living a luxurious life is what you want, then you should strive for it, but wouldn’t that be awesome if you could be that person who lives in abundance and is fulfilled, while also having a good heart to guide people to become someone like you?

I firmly believe that every one of us has that power and potential within us to live a great life, and all we need to do is just to let it out. We are all designers to our own lives, and it is up to us how we want our life to look like.

Again, being a couch potato and daydreamer would not get you to what you want. You have to spend efforts, tons of it!!!

It’s not the protein powder or superfood that gets you to that perfect body shape, it is your persistence and consistency to go to the gym everyday that give you that ideal body shape.

As a millennial (I know that my voice can’t represent for all), I care a lot whether I could be a happy and integrative person in my life and whether I can bring good vibes and values to this world to make it a little better than it is.


To me, life is not just about blossom as a human being, but it’s about how to work on myself in a way that I can empower others so we can all blossom together.



That’s it for today. Don’t forget to clap👏, comment🙋 and share👻 if like❤️ it. Feel free to introduce who you are and express your thoughts!! I’d like to learn from you guys, so yea, don’t be a stranger 🙃.


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Twitter: https://twitter.com/CAI0901

Personal Website: https://yitingcai.com

My YouTube Channel: https://bit.ly/2Tk61Hx

I also organized offline Meetup Events in Manhattan, NY, come join us if you can.

The article was also published on Medium.