BJ Miller – Reimagine Life

BJ Miller talks about his brush his death, and shares the journey it sparked towards finding new beauty and meaning in the life that remains.


We all need a reason to wake up. For me it just took 11,000 volts. A few of my friends and I were horsing around. We decided to climb atop a parked commuter train. It was just sitting there with the wires that run overhead. Somehow that seemed like a great idea at the time. We’d certainly done stupider things. I started up the ladder on the back, and when I stood up the electrical current entered my arm, blew down and out my feet and that was that.

“That night began my formal relationship with death, my death. For most people the scariest thing about death isn’t being dead. It’s dying, suffering. It’s a key distinction. So much of the suffering is unnecessary, invented, serves no good purpose, but the good news is since this brand of suffering is made up, well, we can change it. How we die is indeed something we can effect. So since dying is a necessary part of life, what might we create with this fact?

“Parts of me died early on, and that’s something we can all say one way or another. I got to redesign my life around this fact, and I tell you it has been a liberation to realize you can always find a shock of beauty or meaning in what life you have left. Like that snowball lasting for a perfect moment all the while melting away. If we love such moments ferociously, then maybe we can learn to live well not in spite of death but because of it. Let death be what takes us, not lack of imagination. Thank you.”