Life is short.
Once you realize that, the question becomes: How do you choose to live it?
In 2004, when I turned 50, three very special people in my life suddenly passed away in a span of eight weeks. Nancy Kalita, a best friend from highschool. My angel of a mom at age 73. And my former boss, composer Shelly Elias, who collaborated with me on commercial songs. Since that time, others have died, but it was those three abrupt departures that shook me to my core.
Those events marked a radical shift in my thinking. I realized I needed to have more meaning in my everyday life. It made me think deeply, “How did I want to live my life?”
While I had been doing freelance writing for corporate clients about anything, I no longer wanted to write copy that wasn’t meaningful to me. I kept thinking, What difference am I making?
That wake-up call was like a blinking neon sign: LIVE LIFE NOW! I was being nudged to be conscious of my time. Did I even want to keep living? What difference was I making?
Even before my mom passed away, I remember asking her once, “why am I writing catalog copy about staplers?” I was so bored! “Is this what I went to college for?” Her smart answer? “Well, someone needs to know!” Yes, I guess someone does. But it wasn’t the right fit for me.
Did I have to accept any freelance writing project? We needed the income but still – how was I living my life? Could I create something more meaningful? Could I consciously decide to just focus on creating words to inspire, motivate and empower others? (Note: Some of my past client projects were in perfect alignment with my soul… just not all of them.)
After those three precious souls died, my world came tumbling down. So much didn’t seem important. I knew I couldn’t waste my hours. The clock of my life was ticking away. Each days was numbered.
How much was I getting done that mattered to ME?
Once, I sent my mom an email with the words “Carpe Diem!” (Latin for “Seize the moment.”) She’d kidded me back, “I’m carping as much as I can.” But – was I “carping?”
It took a shock to my system to wake me up. Perhaps that’s what I needed. The healing took over a year. Finally, I found a ray of hope in many signs that happened, demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt that I never lost any of my loved ones. They’re with me in spirit form. Love never dies. (You know that, don’t you?)
But the question still remained: Am I REALLY living consciously? Since that fateful time, I’ve become quite introspective. Spiritual books naturally gravitate towards our home, lining our bookshelves. They seem to just appear… landing up on my nightstand for reading and contemplation.
One of those compelling books is pushing me now into uncharted territory… to be more and do more in my life. The book is: A Year To Live: How To Life This Year As If It Were Your Last, by Stephen Levine. Levine worked in hospice for years, and helped many at the end of their lives. He saw how often people felt regret, realizing they hadn’t accomplished their deepest desires. They wanted just a little more time…
The same situation happened over and over. So many people weren’t prepared for death. We all know it’s going to happen sometime. But no one likes to even think about it. No one likes to prepare for it. Levine wondered, What if…. What IF – this was his last year to live? Would he live it differently? What would he do?
Then, Levine turns to us and asks, “what would YOU do if you knew this was your last year?” Those words swirl around me. I’m looking at each day differently.
How can I live more consciously? What’s most important to me? How do I accomplish my mission while I’m still here? Last year, I got my children’s book finally published. It had been in my heart for 20 years! I still want to do more… even speak more… but how do I get it done?
Can I have the courage to live fully and make a bigger impact? Can I help more “difference makers” tell their stories through live streaming video interviews and writing? Can I affect greater positive change in the world?
This present moment is the only sure thing we’ve got. I feel like I’m changing inside… spurred on by this one book. I’d like to share more contemplations in my next article. For now, let’s consider that we’re taking this “one year to live” journey together.
What would YOU do if you were preparing for this year to be your last?
Would you be willing to share your thoughts with me? We each make a difference. We just get to decide what that difference will be.
Let’s have a dialogue together. We can accomplish so much if we simply choose to believe in ourselves.
One of the exercises in A Year To Live is to show your gratitude to others. As part of that process, I want to thank my talented colleagues at GoRead. Your effort to write, post and connect with new people brings a smile into the lives of others. Thanks to all my fans and followers. I want to acknowledge several who’ve made personal contact with me over the past few months: Carolyn Owens, Renee Mollan Masters, Nicholas Boothman, Anna Giannone, Barry Hoffman, Carolyn Ferren, Burt Kempner, Deanna Ford, Roy Alabado, Shari Reinhart, Bill Bergfeld, Ken Dunn, Warren Bull, Vaughn Berkeley, Colin Alston, Mario MJ Perron, Stan Holden, Russell Dennis. My biggest thanks to my dear friend, Roland Takaoka, who inspires me to live life to its fullest.
There’s no time like now. Be conscious of the present. Take time to live in the present. And may all your greatest dreams come to life!