Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Live as though you were dying is a sentiment I'm sure we’ve all heard at some point.  It comes up for us at various times, often at the loss of someone close to us, or even upon learning about the death of someone we didn’t know well, or at all.  We get that little reminder; we won’t always have tomorrow, or next month or next year. Though I had written most of this blog a while ago, I was compelled today to finally just tweak and publish it, after learning about the death of ZachSobeith. 

I’m involved with an amazing all volunteer, non-profit organization called VOICESOFHOPE. This past September, at our annual gala concert at Jordan Hall in Boston, a male quartet performed the song “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw.  They did an incredible rendition of the song and it quickly became a favorite of both the audience and our cast and is now one of our featured numbers.   As I watched the YouTube video shortly after the event, and again recently, in addition to marveling at what we have created together and how incredibly talented my friends are, I was again struck by this sentiment.  These are the lyrics to the first verse and chorus:

He said, "I was in my early forties with a lot of life before me
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime
But I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays
Talkin' 'bout the options and talkin' 'bout sweet time"
I asked him, "When it sank in that this might really be the real end,
how's it hit you when you get that kind of news? Man, what'd you do?"

He said, "I went skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying"
And he said, "Someday I hope you get the chance…  to live like you were dying.”

Both the song and its premise make me smile.   They also prompt me to think about what I would do if I found myself in this situation.  In some ways, I’m already living my life this way because I have thought about this in the past and with some consistency.  It’s true for all of us that our time here on this earth is limited; however, 'limited' is certainly a relative term.   Here's the thing I often grapple with that I can never really figure out: What is that balance between living as though I have significantly limited time, but knowing, at least at the moment, I could have A LOT of time?  To re-state this question... How do webalance living full-out, being all of who we are, truly experiencing our lives, and NOT living from a place of fear, with the fact that we could easily need to support ourselves into our 80s or 90s.  What is that optimal balance between living a joyous and fulfilling life right now and responsibly planning for the future?
I'm sorry to say that I do not have the answer, nor is there just one answer.  However, I do think it's an important question to ask ourselves and the answer is different for each of us and is also dynamic; ask me today and my answer would probably be different than if you had asked me 5 or 10 years ago, or 5 months or 5 years into the future.
  • Stay in the now, as much as possible.  And when you do visit the past or the future, do so intentionally and limit the ‘trip’ to its intended purpose:
  • STOP living solely by your “to-do” lists.  Although our lists certainly serve an important function, here’s the thing:  YOU WILL NEVER GET ALL OF YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW!  (Thanks, Rick Carson!)
  • Figure out how YOU are in your own way and frequently ask yourself: “What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?”   (Oh, and by the way … SO WHAT if you do?) ;-)
  • Take a good look at how you hold yourself back due to fear, whether it be of failure, success, change, risk…   What if you weren’t scared?  What would be different?
  • There are many, many ways that we can live more fully without spending money or taking financial risk.   Here are a few: Simply smiling and making more eye contact with people, giving and getting more hugs, singing, dancing, getting out into nature, laughing big belly laughs, playing with your pets, or enjoying that ice cream cone you just had to have, instead of beating yourself up about it!  
I'm not trying to preach to you: this is truly what I want for myself, for the people I love and for everyone.   I sometimes imagine what the world would be like surrounded by people who live like they are dying.  I think it would be pretty amazing.
If you knew you only had 6 months to live, what is the first thing that comes to mind that you would regret not having done?