On The Shortness of Life

Irene Chu
3 min readJul 4, 2021

Welcome back, kindred spirits.

In light of recent events, I’ve been reminded of Seneca’s essay On the Shortness of Life.

We are dying.

Though we could not possibly forget this truth…

How often do we think about it on a daily basis?

How often does this fact drive our decisions?

Less often than we think, and this needs to change.

Last year, I watched a video of 70 people ages 5–75 sharing their biggest regrets.

The main takeaways?

When we’re younger, we regret the things we did.

When we’re older, we regret the things we didn’t do.

With my grandfather’s passing, I’ve been wondering if people ever die contentedly — without regrets, proud of their children and contributions, and at peace with their legacy.

I’ve been thinking…

Was my grandfather proud of the life he led, of his accomplishments and children?

Did he have any regrets?

And, what of my mother?

Has she regretted her choice — moving abroad, away from her family and friends, only seeing them once or twice every few years?

How did she feel, being unable to attend his funeral?

Separated from the people you love, is this a life worth living?

Some people may argue it’s subjective, entirely dependent on what you consider a meaningful life.

Similar to how purpose, success and happiness are subjective and contingent on how we define them.

But I believe, regardless of how we define any of the above, humans are fundamentally social creatures, and thus, we need deep and meaningful relationships to be happy.

Though we are all aware of it, I doubt we tend to keep this truth at the forefront of our minds — that we are dying every day.

Most people fear death and think life is too short.

But, I do not fear death, nor do I think life is too short.

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Irene Chu

I ghostwrite newsletters for female holistic health coaches. | My newsletter: https://irenechu.substack.com/