Live like you were dying
A good friend died suddenly two weeks ago.
It particularly touched me and profoundly impacted me because we had spent time together just a few hours before her death and it was suicide. I carry so much guilt around with me it threatened to overtake my entire life.
I miss her every day, but her life and death resonated with me in a way quite unlike any other way I had ever processed the idea of dying. Not ever. She was so young – just a little bit younger than me, as it was, and it made me reconsider some of the things I do in my daily life, and the manner in which I do them.
At the same time, I was playing around with my Spotify account one day and came across a song I had heard a snippet of in a movie and was curious about. The song was used in the riff-off from Pitch Perfect 2, and it’s a song by Tim McGraw about how his father told him he had been able to deal with a diagnosis of terminal illness…
‘So I asked him how it hits you when you get that kinda news/ Man what’d you do?’
And the answer went…
I went skydiving,
‘Yeah, no thanks,' I thought.
Rocky Mountain climbing,
Still, a big no, thanks. I’m afraid of heights.
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu,
‘OK,’ I thought. ‘0-for-3. No way I’m getting on a bull named after facial hair. I think I'll start that blog instead.'
So I did.
And I loved deeper,
OK. Now I knew this McGraw fellow was on to something. This week, I took care to make sure that every interaction with my family was kind and sweet – as sweet and as kind as I was capable of being. You know what? When I focused on doing it, I found it went easier than I could’ve hoped, and far better than I could have expected. In fact, I thought, ‘this is something that feels good, and is good.
So, to my mind, it is good.
And I spoke sweeter
I made a point if complimenting everyone I came across this week. Whether it was a friend, an acquaintance or an out-and-out enemy, I found a way to help them feel good about themselves, and again, it felt good. And it was good. Doing good things that spread joy is really, really satisfying. Yet another tick mark in the good-feelings column. I decided to tell the people who were important to me how much they meant to me, and how important they were to me. If they didn’t know before, they know now. I asked more questions of other people and found I was interested in what they had to say and that also felt good. And it was good.
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
That was tough, man. I have lived with a chip on my shoulder for a long time, but some very insightful words from a close friend who makes coaching others his profession helped me slowly start knocking that sucker off of there. It made me realize that life is entirely too short to carry a grudge, or to hold silent grievances. I dropped my (metaphorical) satchel full of jealousy and chips (from my shoulder) and bitterness and left it in a compost bin in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu last weekend.
I became the husband that most of the time I wasn’t
I became a friend a friend would like to have
And suddenly going fishing
wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
For instance, I have never, ever been renowned for my patience. But this week, I faced a whole bunch of challenges I never thought I would be forced to confront, and I was also faced with feelings I have not felt in a long time, either. Could be because I was in tune with my friends and loved ones. Could be because I was doing things that felt good. Mostly, though, I think I knew down deep that I could either wait for things to happen to me in this life, or I could go out and make my own happiness by doing the things I’d been either too scared or too weak to do.
And I did them -- as many as I could.
I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain Climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.
I hope someday you get the chance to live life like you’re dying.
I didn’t take that to mean doing everything one last time, blowing all my money and leaving my children penniless. No, it was more like living out loud, doing things without fear of the fallout and embracing life and all its ups and downs, and feeling them in my soul.
I’m going to live life like I’m dying.
Evert single day. And I ain’t never stopping.
You know why? ‘Cause it feels good.
And it is good.