We’ve all heard about and perhaps have even read books about the grand nature of life, e.g., “The Purpose Driven Life“, by Rick Warren; “Chicken Soup for the Soul“, by Jack Canfield; “Heaven is for Real“, by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, and “The Last Lecture“, by Randy Pausch.
Books like these, present us with an opportunity to change or better comprehend our perspectives about the significance of (our) life, perhaps a deeper meaning or connection with our spirit and overwhelmingly, insight into our human nature. They are, without question, all great reads.
What if I told you, however, that how we die is more important than how we live? Would you immediately disagree? How could this be true? Isn’t death an ending? Why focus on the negative?
Certainly, these are all relevant and valid questions or thoughts about something we know precious little about, yes? Yet, if one views life as an accumulation of knowledge, experience, wisdom and dare I say, faith; well, now you know the purpose of this discussion.
“Have you ever uttered that age-old phrase, “If I had known then what I know now…”? Trust me , you’re not alone. The essence of that quip, is that living life yields much insight into ourselves, our situation, our environment, and the world, as it relates to people and relationships.”
Many factors intertwine to make us who we are today. Among them, our childhood, the location(s) we’ve resided, family, friends, education, information about the world, events, and especially our faith.
I’ve assembled a punch list of 10 factors that influence just how prepared we will be when we die. Prepared, you might ask? For what? Well, prepared for what follows our death, of course. The following net outcomes at the time of our death largely determine our path forward:
- Have we truly accepted Christ as King?
- Have we “Chosen Wisely” using our Free Will?
- How did we utilize our Time on earth?
- Were we motivated in moving toward life or Running Away?
- Did we present ourselves to others in an Authentic fashion?
- Have we developed a sense of Inner Peace?
- How effective were we at dealing with Change?
- Were we in a faithful Mental State?
- Did we consider the Bigger Picture as we made decisions?
- How effectively did we demonstrate Compassion and Love for others?
As evidenced above, when we die is truly irrelevant in the Grand Scheme of our Eternal Existence. The things we accumulated during our lives are likewise meaningless as they remain behind in their entirety.
What matters, when our physical life is distilled, is how prepared were we to die all along the way. Collectively, our priorities, values, mindset and intent represent the bellwether of how we are to be judged, held accountable and projected forward into eternity.
From childhood and on throughout our lives, we develop and maintain the mindset that life and death are mutually exclusive states. I’m here to tell you that they not only coexist, yet further, simultaneously exist in each of us.
“The moment we are born, we begin dying and the only thing we control is to what extent we live while we are breathing. Death has this context of inevitable finality about it, yet it is exclusively a result of not knowing anything about it; or worse, being unwilling to learn its nature and invite it into our lives, so we can better prepare for it.”
Each of us have friends, family, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and yes, pets, that have ceased to live, yet are vibrantly alive in our memories. We create this righteous attitude of sorrow for their death, yet in reality, the sorrow we create is selfishly directed at OUR loss, not theirs.
Likewise, we are very good at identifying the right things to say to our loved ones, but only AFTER they cease to live, as we know it. The challenge, you see, is to identify these right things to say, and then say them, to these special lives, while they are still breathing!
And life goes on, with new life being created and existing life exiting this place we call our world. Beings coming and going, sometimes intersecting with others, at other times, traveling alone; much like molecules bumping into each other in a chemistry beaker.
And as random and insignificant as life sometimes appears to us, it is truly, so very special, so magnificent and such a gift that it behooves us to celebrate it with every breath we take in, lest it be our last.
The world today contains so many distractions, from life, from our spirit and soul, from each other and from God. Yes, at times we need that bolt of lightning to remind us of our priorities. Consider this article that little nudge to refocus your priority list, rekindle that spark and zest for living, remember to smile and greet everyone you encounter with goodwill, and lastly, to revive your gratitude for the gift of life you are enjoying as you read this.
Yes, much like the tracks that we know with certainty are parallel, we equally know as life embraces death, the tracks converge and eventually intersect, transporting our spirit into eternity, anxiously reconnecting with all those vibrant memories which then become our new reality.
You see, we’ve got it all wrong. Death is but a door, a transformation of energy and a portal to our future. It is not to be feared, but importantly, prepared for and anticipated. Until then, live with passion and practice compassion for others; live your conscience and Look for the Good. I’ll be watching.
Equally, when we speak of life and living, the same logic is present as each of our lives means something uniquely special, to a person.
Too often, we hastily conclude life and living is defined by a heartbeat. I offer to you that your heartbeat is but an inconsequential symptom of living and often distracts us from being able to truly comprehend the essence of living and all that it entails and consumes.
Collectively, my life and your life reflect a mosaic of sensory experiences, yet the intrinsic nature of life and living is only realized at the high end of the spectrum of our senses and is succinctly and accurately defined as a plurality.
Imagine, for this moment, if the totality of your life was channeled through only one sense. If you could only see the world without the benefit or complement of your other senses; would you still be living?
Or, how about only being able to hear the world around you, would you contend you are still living?
Does being able to singularly touch and feel your world equate to living?
Incredibly, the answer to all these questions is “no”. To my point, living is a symphony, comprised of each of our sensory input channels. And not surprisingly, when one or more of those channels are “turned off” or unavailable for reception, input and translation, the remaining or available channels are bombarded with their own “traffic”, resulting in an ultra sensitivity to that channel.
As an athlete balances and consumes input from all available senses or channels, the result is greater than the sum of the parts and is a true synergy. Our imagination is similarly synergistic in nature as we leverage every fragment of thought and memory to create new thoughts and memories.
“In our spiritual universe, it is also most logical, then, to conclude that our faith or our soul is the catalyst that creates or enables genuine living to occur. Faith is that invisible, yet undeniably present sense which processes all of our physical sensory information like a computer, effectively and involuntarily creating your life, whether you realize it or not.”
“What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.” – Helen Keller
Let us all hope to create a life that is abundantly rich in our senses, yet wholly founded and driven by our heart, soul and faith. And in legendary fashion, live that life All Night Long. In truth, our sunset magically transforms into our sunrise, making us eternal beings. Be well.
The first thing you must do to attempt to answer the question is define and understand what it means to be “alive”.
Does it mean to simply breathe? or perhaps, to be able to use any of your five (5) basic senses, i.e., see, smell, taste, touch, hear. In my opinion, these things more accurately describe “existing”.
[Meaningful Sidebar: If you are curious about how technology has and does impact our lives, go to Google and perform an image search using the word “living”. You will be astounded by what you find; at least I was. The vast majority of images returned were absent something very, very important. You’ll know what that “something” is when you see the results. If not, you had better pinch yourself to see if you are indeed, alive.]
So many of us are NOT authentically living, but merely existing, from day to day as we have become entombed in a routine we mistakenly identify as “life” or “living”, when in reality, it is merely existing, as an earthworm in the dirt or a flower in a garden. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with earthworms or flowers, however, their level of consciousness and awareness are incomparable to the human being; or at least that was the “design” or “plan”.
“True living involves and requires passion for our behavior(s), compassion for other people and a true “plan” for our lives.”
Why are we all here, anyway? How far along the way are we to achieving or realizing our “plan”? Conversely, how much time do we have “remaining” to accomplish that plan? Have we already met and surpassed our Life Plan? How are we supposed to “know” when we have “arrived”?
To be sure, these are all rhetorical questions, yet meaningful as they are, they cause us to think, wonder and perhaps even worry, about the significance of each of our lives. Profoundly, that is a good thing for it causes us to Live!
I contend that if you believe your life has value, is meaningful, purposeful and significant, then it is incumbent upon you, upon each of us, to invest the necessary time and effort into searching our soul to truly identify and/or define, who we “are“, what we are “about” and why we are “here“. And once our “values” are visibly discernible, it is subsequently our obligation to harmonize or align our thoughts, actions and behaviors with those values. That, my friends, is Living. I challenge you to work toward making every second of your existence a “Life Worth Living”. Be well.
If you truly have a thirst for living, you will be blessed to witness what Randy Pausch has to say below about life and living:
- Great little story (abbasyaldah.wordpress.com)
- 3 Smart Career Lessons from Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture (money.usnews.com)
- The Last Lecture – A Legacy (soulgatherings.wordpress.com)
- Live a meaningful life! (and why “What would they say about me at my funeral?” is a bad question) (paceandkyeli.com)
- Purposely (writingsofamrs.wordpress.com)