Death Is What Gives Life Meaning Cover

The Biggest Paradox in Life

In Marvel’s Dr. Strange, there is a scene where he and his mentor are standing at a window, looking out on a titanic thunderstorm.

The Ancient One, who’s lived for hundreds of years, gives Dr. Strange a piece of advice for the final challenge he must face.

Dr. Strange: I’m not ready.

The Ancient One: No one ever is. We don’t get to choose our time. Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered; your time is short.

Almost a year after seeing the film, I still remember this scene most vividly.

The only reason our lives have meaning is that they end.

From the moment we’re born, we’re thrown on to an unstoppable curve of momentum, slingshotting towards the only definite event in life: death.

Think about it. Everything that makes life great is fleeting.

  • Your ice cream tastes so good because it’s about to melt.
  • Time with your partner is precious because you can kiss them only a finite number of times.
  • Your grand mission to change the world is urgent because you don’t know how long you have to accomplish it.

Every single experience that makes our time here worthwhile goes back to that time being over soon. No one wants to live forever once they’ve lived long enough. And yet dying is what we’re most afraid of.

It’s the biggest paradox in life.

The next time your ice cream falls on the floor, your heart is broken or you have to let go of a dream, remember this:

Death is what gives life meaning. We don’t get to choose our time.

But each second passed is a second that made it more precious. No matter how you spent it.