“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln.
“Where are you? I’ve been calling you, like, a dozen times!”
“Sorry!” I told my husband Eric a couple of weeks ago, “I was playing tennis, I didn’t hear my phone.”
“I was really worried. So good to hear your voice! There was a fatal car accident on State Road 434/436. I thought you mentioned you were going that way, to Costco, this morning. I panicked.”
That evening Eric returned with a bountiful, fragrant bouquet of not-bought-at-the-gas-station-on-the-way-flowers. Eric and I, apparently along with other shaken local friends, dipped in and out of poignant silence and internalized prayers as our hearts dwelled on the tragic deaths of a baby, baby’s father and a hospitalized mother who were involved in that crash.
Sometimes a reminder like this of the fragility and temporary nature of life swerves into our life as a sacred pointer, telling us that the only thing we can guarantee is our deaths. Rather than pushing this mortality fact to the backs of our minds, we can instead use it to inspire and leverage how we choose to live.
Don’t let a denial of death fossilize your life into fear.
Acknowledging death provides life with a fresh exhilaration, a precious quality that we don’t have access to all the time we’re too frightened to address the inevitable. Reminding ourselves of our future date with death gives a renewed sense of urgency to bucket lists. There is only Now. Oftentimes its very enlightening to slide into our death bed scene and forecast a reflection back on what the future You may say needs shifting in your world.
If I were snatched away to death tomorrow, what would be my legacy? Is it time you asked this, perhaps the most important question we can ask of ourselves? To help unpack such a loaded question, let’s break it down:-
1) Is there an elderly (or young) relative or family friend who you sense could use some kindness pointed in their direction? A letter perhaps, because they’re not “on the line?!” Maybe its a letter stuffed with news and folded over 6×4 photos of your growing family. Maybe its healing a long-held rift which your heart tells you must not continue. Or perhaps its simply a letter to say thank you for the positive difference they’ve made in your life, and no agenda aside from that. If not a letter than a phone call, visit, or a thoughtful impromptu gift, not because its obligatory during Christmas or for their birthday but just because they’ve been endearingly pressing into your thoughts. Its these seemingly insignificant acts of kindness that mend hearts sagging in a disillusionment with humankind. Be their happiness. That’s’ what we’re here for, to live Love.
2) How is your work/play balance? Do you play?! Do you ever subscribe children’s’ innate built-in glee and wonderment to their frequent play time? Who says you’re too old to get paint all over your hands, to buy a coloring book, stomp in mud, swing in the park or tuck yourself into the folds and crevices of trees?
3) Are you being present with those you love? Or do your thoughts belong to the past or future, only here presently in bodily form? Stop with the multi-tasking, examine the faces of your loved-ones as if for the first time, talk into their eyes, hug harder, for longer, inhale their sweet, unique smell. Don’t you think this is exactly what a dying person would do? We are all dying, the only thing in question is when. Its never too late to create rituals of love; tea and biscuits around the kitchen table after school, date nights, despite the number of married years. Its minutes of your time, just moments. You’ve got that to spare. We’ve all got that.
“Don’t die with your music still in you” Dr. Wayne Dyer
4) Give Your Gift. Transformational teacher Dr. Barbara De Angelis has an analogy in her latest book, ‘Soul Shifts’ which is so poignant it refuses to budge one bit towards the forgotten pile of my brain. She basically says this: Imagine you’re a delivery gal/guy, working for the likes of Fed Ex. You have a package to deliver before Home Time. This package is your gift to the earth be it, for example, your musical talent, artistic prowess, your desire to nurse, to splash about your sense of humor or something your heart burns to invent. Those who seem fulfilled and at peace have delivered or are delivering this gift. Those stereotypical bitter people, often in their winter years (not you, mum:-) are those who have not yet done so and their soul knows it. It beseeches them to drop off their gift before Home Time but now they are so encumbered with debilitating health and a lifetime of accumulated fear that it seems so unlikely a prospect.
But know this: If you’re still breathing, you’re still living. There is time yet, my friend.
Get out of your head your need to write a best seller, or sell records, or be known, paid or even recognized for your gift. Small efforts make big ripples. Perhaps your gift is to help resolve an issue and your dedication to the cause will be the catalyst for great waves of subsequent healing for others. Perhaps you’re here to exemplify motherhood well done, or to cheer passerby’s up with your banter as they hurry past your market stall. Never forget your power to make a difference. Never forget your ability to serve, right up until you sip that last bit of air.
5) Find Joy. Its so simple, animals manage it, children do too. Yes we have responsibilities but that does not mean we should stop striving for more happiness in our lives, or pause to notice the joy that already exists but we’ve just not been available to. Right now, prove to yourself how powerful counting your blessings can be by thinking of three things that you’re grateful for. We tend to only notice blessings once they’re gone. But we-starting today- can fix that.
I sometimes ask myself; if I get a death sentence tomorrow, what would I do or be that I’m not already? There are a few letters I need to scribe, a lot of thank you’s that need to be spoken, telling relatives how much joy I attribute to them. But I try to greet my children in their dozy state between sleep and wakefulness with an enthusiasm as if I’ve not clapped eyes on them for a week. I try to approach each day with a excitable vigor, free from unnecessary and cumbersome routine. But its not always easy, we do slip into complacency, letting the unimportant things drag us down. That’s ok, normal in fact, as long as we make a determined effort to live like we’re dying enough of the time to satisfy our souls.
Let’s end our days well worn, happily exhausted and relieved of delivery packages.
Does death plague your sense of emotional wellbeing? (Have I made it worse)?! Does it cause you anxiety, distress? Do thoughts such as, I’m-not- a- religious- person- and- therefore- probably- not- going- to- heaven haunt you from time to time? I can completely relate. I used to panic when I pondered death. So I decided to explore other people’s experiences of near death encounters. Now I only posses a slight fear in the manner in which I may go, not death itself. In fact-from everything I’ve read and felt to resonate with some inner knowingness- I’m actually looking forward to it because, essentially, as author Rhonda Byrne says in ‘The Secret’:-
“You are energy, and energy cannot be created or destroyed. Energy just changes form. And that means You! The true essence of You, the pure energy of You, has always been and always will be. You can never not be.”
These are the best resources I’ve found in bringing about this beautiful transformation from fear to peace. They are for those of you with a specific faith, faith without religion and especially for you if you’re agnostic or atheist. There’s no right or wrong way to be, only that which serves you.
‘Dying To Be Me,’ Anita Moorjani
‘Life After Life,’ Raymond Moody
‘Top 10 Things Dead People Want You To Know,’ Mike Dooley
‘Conversations with God’ book series, Neale Donald Walsh
If watching a movie is more your thing:-
Click here to watch Raymond Moody’s ‘Life After Life’ Documentary.
Or watch ‘Afterlife,’ available on Netflix. See an excerpt here…
Till next time, Lovely, have a beautiful week:-)