“Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Look around and you will see how many people spend more time “getting ready” to live than they do actually living their ideal lives. We often spend our time playing it safe instead of doing exactly what we want to do. Fear causes us to make never-ending excuses for not going for it. But what if you were more conscious of the fact that you’re going to die soon?
Rainn Wilson’s Soul Pancake has a video series called “My Last Days” where they document the struggles and uplifting stories of terminal illness. Last night, I watched the story of Zach Sobiech, a teenager diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. With only months to live, Zach used his love of music to say goodbye. (Tissue alert: I cried during most of this video and it was worth it to have my heart opened in such a powerful way.)
Zach passed away this week on May 20, 2013. But before he left this earth, he spent his time sharing his life and music with the world, inspiring millions of people with his song, “Clouds.”
Would you make different decisions in your life if you were more present to your own mortality? Unlike Zach, you probably don’t know exactly how long you have left to live, but at least you understand the truth that none of us will live forever. Looking at the big picture, you can see that you have a very limited amount of time to accomplish and experience the things you desire. This awareness is a very freeing state to be in.
If you can remember that you’re going to die, possibly sooner than you think, you might be more likely to:
Stop engaging in petty arguments and gossip. Ask yourself if this situation would matter if you only had a few months left to live. If the answer is no, why let it bother you now? Why waste any more moments of your life stuck in anger and negativity? Instead, spend that time doing something that actually makes you happy!
Stop working at a job you hate and put in the effort to find one you like. We spend at least 25% of our lives working, so why not give yourself the gift of enjoying what you do? Or at least find a way to authentically connect to the people you encounter at work, making a crappy job seem much more tolerable.
Start doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. Go to the places you’ve always wanted to go. Do the things you wrote down on your “bucket list” years ago when you were feeling optimistic and brave. Remember that you don’t have to wait until you have the right friend or partner to take that cross-country road trip with. You can go now and experience the adventure all by yourself!
Start taking more risks on yourself. Instead of choosing “security” over uncertainty, you have the power to take a chance and step outside of your comfort zone. Ask yourself what’s more important to you – not failing/looking stupid OR seeing yourself achieve something that deep down, you already know you’re capable of doing.
Whenever you feel paralyzed by the fear of doing something different with your life, call forward the truth that these are, indeed, your last days and it’s up to you how you will spend them. It won’t be too long from now when you will close your eyes for the last time.
Maybe all the best moments of your life will flash by like a movie and you’ll remember how beautiful the moon looked that night in Paris or the way the audience gave you a standing ovation after hearing you sing your song.
Or maybe you won’t remember anything at all.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you living the life you want right now or are you still “getting ready” to live it? How would you be spending your time if you knew you only had a few months left to live?
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below and join the conversation – our HBW Community is becoming a great place to connect with like-minded ladies, ask questions and get support
Rosetta Thurman is the Founder of Happy Black Woman. Follow Rosetta on Twitter.
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