I began to develop the ideas that eventually became Performance and Purpose in Dying and Death very soon after finishing the previous book which explores the roots and causes of performance anxiety. Dying and death is referred to in that book, and this led me to investigate further into the ultimate anxiety that afflicts us all which is that of our lives ending.
The way in which the book differs from others on this subject area is the perspective from which it was originally conceived. The arch of the five chapters moves from the purely physical reality of possessing a body and the challenges that we all encounter with that, through a series of shifts and changes which transition into a more metaphysical perspective by taking a close examination of the first and last thing we do – breathing.
The first chapter is all about denial – something many of us are very good at.
The principal option suggested in the book is to not deny, but embrace the inevitable, make friends with it, and prepare with an attitude of enquiry, curiosity, and fearless anticipation. It can be rather like going on a foreign holiday (the inevitably of which is usually because you have paid for it). We can’t know what lies ahead, but if we have prepared (packed) with care and attention, it stands every chance of being wonderful – full of wonder.
The book explores grief, loss, and attachment with a view to understanding what it is we believe will be lost when we die. It is a book of signposts that hopefully point the way to reducing some of the tension and suffering surrounding the mystery that awaits us all. It is an entry into the conversation around dying and death from a viewpoint that is neither medical nor religious, and without postulating any belief system. Any sense of what feels to be ‘true’ is to be found only in the validity of our own experience.
It is an optimistic and wholly positive exploration of dying and death being a portal into another level of being.