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Chasing Daylight: Some Thoughts on Mortality

chasing-daylight

I recently read two books about the choices people make when faced with the knowledge of their forthcoming death. The first book is called Last Acts, and was written by a doctor who worked predominantly with hospice patients.

Throughout the book, people make different choices—some seek to create closure with their loved ones and prepare as much as possible to say farewell to life as we know it. Others refuse to accept the reality of their forthcoming death and try to fight as long as possible. The author writes non-judgmentally, but also shares his belief that those who accepted the circumstances and attempted to create closure made the better choice than those who chose to pretend they weren’t dying.

Then I read Chasing Daylight, a similar book from a very different perspective: instead of being written by a healthy doctor working with sick patients, it was written by an executive who was given less than 90 days to live due to a rapidly-appearing brain tumor. In this book, the executive considers himself fortunate to have the chance to effectively count down the days until his death. Within days of learning about the tumor, he makes a list of everyone in his life he wishes to say goodbye to. Then he begins contacting all of them, one-by-one, to let each person know what they meant to him. Some people he contacts are uncomfortable, afraid, or even angry with his desire to “close” relationships. But as he says in the book, no one is going to overrule the wishes of a dying man, so he pushes ahead.

I read both books very quickly, with the sense that when you are reading about someone whose days are limited, you shouldn’t wait too long before finding out what happens with them. In different ways, both books demonstrate the need to live deliberately instead of just passively filling the days.

This brings us to a good question I heard recently (from Jamey in Little Rock):

If we were no longer here tomorrow, who would notice?

Jamey is a pastor who often asks this question of his congregation, but don’t let that put you off—I think it’s an excellent question for everyone to think about, regardless of background. Would anyone notice if you were gone, and if so… what would they notice? Does that kind of thinking produce regrets? (And if so, is there anything we can do about them?)

***

Thinking about the end also helps to think about the present. When the author of Chasing Daylight realizes he has only 90 days left to live, he immediately resigns from his job as CEO—even though he loved his job and derived a lot of fulfillment from it. Some of the hospice patients in Last Acts seek to reclaim creative projects they had abandoned earlier in life. Almost everyone in both books, at least those who are able to deal with the knowledge of their impending death, reflects about the importance of creating “perfect moments” and living in the present.

Most of the time these days, I wake up excited and go to sleep excited. Sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night thinking about all the projects I want to work on. So many countries left! New adventures, new friends, trips, writing projects, business ventures, etc.

I don’t want it to end, and I don’t expect it to end for a while. But reading Last Acts and Chasing Daylight served as good reminders that we don’t always get to choose how things turn out, so it’s important to make sure we are deliberate in the things we do have control over.

From refugees to survivors of all kinds, I’ve met a lot of people whose lives have been altered through trauma and near-death experiences. In my own life, I can pinpoint a few experiences that shook me up and caused me to rethink my priorities, especially a major change that came about after 9/11 when I was depressed and trying to find a way to engage with the world. The problem is that these events don’t come along very often (for good reason), and when they do come along, you don’t always have a choice in how to respond.

Instead of responding to trauma, therefore, it’s better if you can avoid a wake-up call like that to create change in your life. You don’t have to wait for a 9/11, a car crash, another near brush with death to think about what really matters. You can do so right now, today, no matter what else is happening in your life.

As for me, I do my best to live in the present while looking forward to the future. It’s not always easy to do this, even if you’re happy with your life, as I am. Over here, it helps to get up on Sunday mornings and run for at least an hour without listening to music. (I like listening to music when I exercise, but it also tends to zone me out—so sometimes it’s good to just run.) When I travel, I go for long walks alone.

I balance these behaviors, which are solitary by design, with the need to contribute to something bigger than myself, and hopefully make the world a better place along the way. I feel glad to be alive and aware that all of this is a beautiful gift. I want to take it as seriously as it deserves. Mary Oliver put it this way:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

In various forms, questions like that are what I believe we should think about every single day. How would you respond?

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Image: Hippolyte

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110 Comments

  • Marilyn says:

    i really love this post. how strange that some would feel anger over someone with a fatal disease trying to seek closure in a relationship. re the pastor’s question…for me, those kinds of thoughts don’t produce regrets, they remind me of how precious and fleeting life is. it’s sometimes seemed odd to me that we life-plan looking forward…maybe it would make more sense to imagine how we wanted our lives to look at the end and plan for that.

  • You only realise how valuable your life is when it’s almost taken away from you.

  • Anna says:

    I was on the beach in Hawaii a few years ago and decided to save $5 by not calling my grandfather in Russia on my cell phone. I’ll call him when we get home… Two days later he was gone. The only person to talk to was the ocean.

  • Chelsea Rae says:

    Thanks Chris – I’m setting this as my homepage for the rest of the week… I needed the wake up call.

  • Being conscious of your own mortality is a great way to put things in perspective and make the most of the time you have to live. But at the same time, I wonder if we can really call actions motivated by an impending death, whether they be reconnections or revivals of past dreams, at least for people who don’t know when they will pass but use the inevitability of death as a catalyst for action, as truly genuine acts, since they are inspired by the future, rather than a desire to do them in the present because it is the right thing to do. I struggle with it, because I want to manifest my love for others through action (i.e., telling and showing them I love them) solely because I love them, and not because I know I could be hit by a car or get seriously ill at any moment. I also know it’s not that simple, and that people who absolutely know when they will die are acting out of pure love.

    I think it’s awesome when you write provocative stuff like this. Thanks!

  • Michelle says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I learned the lesson of how fleeting life can be and how important it is to make the most out of every moment when I lost my oldest brother to cancer when he was only 22 years old. He managed to face death with an incredible amount of grace and he never lost his sense of humor. I learned a great deal about how to live from watching how he faced death. So, I learned the lesson early, but it’s always good to have a reminder. Thanks for reminding me of this on a day when, coincidentally, I needed it most!

  • Juliana says:

    Chris, I am so happy that I found your site in the world wide web. I am not even really sure what led me to it since I have very limited time ” on line” but it’s been over a year since I found you and I am thrilled that I did !
    Thank you so much for being positive and being right on target . Life is such a gift and it is so important to try to keep that in the forefront of ones thoughts on a day to day basis and what better way to kick start that than to think of your own mortality. Your article’s give me the boost I need sometimes and it is heartwarming to see that there are still people moving forward in life and making the best of it !
    Keep up the good work as I am sure you will…..Onward and Upward !

  • These are great things to remember. It’s the one thing almost universally avoided or feared is the thought of our own mortality. It is tough to accept that everyone we have ever met or will meet in our lives is someday going to die. Some people never do come to grips with it.

    Maria works directly and indirectly with Hospice here both volunteering and as her job, so she gets to be aware and present for a lot of these scenarios. I believe I am fortunate to have come so close to death that it strengthened my perspective on a lot of things about this life.

    Thanks for the words.

  • kohler says:

    wow great post. that’s been my journal theme for the last week. Live every day as if it could be your last. This reminder will guide you through a very meaningful life. I have definitely realized this with myself. Thanks for the reminder Chris.

  • ymm says:

    the other day i was watching a speech by Randy Pausch, who was diagnosed with cancer and giving a speech on time management, which i think makes him qualify the most, however, helpless and sad it is. it really moves me a bit, and also reminds me who am i to complain about the little trouble i have when comparing with a figure that him. love this post, it’s as inspiring as the usual post from Chris, when i read the first thing that the CEO is to quit his job when he new he got 90 days, I find it refreshingly resonance to most of us, so what’s work to us? a tool to make life sustainable? if this is the case, does it matter whether we like our job or not? what can we do when it eats up the majority of our majority’s time. i wish one day i could find a way to balance before it’s too late,before i lose the right to choose. thanks, really interesting and inspiring.

  • Scott W. says:

    I LOVE posts like this. We think so much about all that we have to do day-to-day, rarely thinking about the quality over quantity. I wonder what average percentage of our time we spend on things having no lasting value….regretfully too much I’m guessing.
    Good one, Chris! Thanks!

  • sharkman says:

    Thanks for this gift Chris. Its all too easy to lose sight of what’s truly most important on a daily basis – especially when we are younger and think we’ve got all the time in the world. The daily 8-6 just has a way of numbing life. That’s why I believe in adventure as a way of living everyday and seek ways of creating an extaordinary life through it. Live adventurously!

  • Baker Lawley says:

    Thanks, Chris–awesome post challenging perspectives.

    It’s helpful to also look at this in reverse, how we would be affected if we were to lose someone close to us. My wife almost got hit by a car on a walk the other day, for instance. She is fine–she’s nimble and did a sort of ninja-vault around the hood, escaping without a scratch. In fact, I think I was more shaken than she was. Even though nothing really happened, it put our relationship in perspective, and I felt the need to keep telling her how much she meant to me.

    All this to say, it’s awesome to step back and think about ways we can build relationships and communities through the right kind of effort in our work and lives–thanks for inspiring us to do it!

  • Gary Wilson says:

    I practiced Theravadan buddhism for some time and one of the meditations I found most useful was on the inevitabitlity of death. At the meditation centre in Thailand where I lived for a while, we had a competition to find the worst way to die. It is useful to remember that we all will die, one way or the other.

    Nonetheless, I have found that no matter how much we think about it, the reality of death (and I only know personally of death in my family) is of a whole different order. Nonetheless, thinking and meditating on death did prepare me for all the extra thoughts that often happen when death is not planned for or thought about and in my experience better enable me to stay present with the fact of dying.

    This post is a wonderful aid for thinking about and preparing for death. Thanks.

  • tanja says:

    Hi. I’ve never commented before, but this time, I felt compelled to do so.

    A friend of mine passed on at the age of 39. She was beautiful inside and out, highly successful and whip smart. She’s studied, dentistry, microbiology, nutrition etc. A high achiever, you might say, which was great but it left little time for anything else. Like finding someone to love. Someone who would love her back just as much, if not more.

    Just before she left, I asked her what she would do differently (next time around perhaps).

    Here’s what she said…

    “I would dance more. Drink more wine. Make art. Kiss more boys and tap into grace”.

    She was one of my greatest teachers, and I miss her every day.

    Thank you Chris, for this profound piece of wisdom.

  • George Black says:

    This is a great message. Its interesting that I am also reading a new book by Max Lucado “Out Live Your Life” . Same message same overtones. But with a religious, humanitarian view. It seems very real someone/ our Creator is bringing a message to light. A message that I presume has been deep within side of most of us, we just don’t listen or too busy with life until that moment spoke of in the 2 books you mention, All at once the fogg is cleared and a bright new paradigm appears. We have a epiphenal moment that changes not only our world but many around us. Again thanks for sharing this wonderful message, Chris.

  • “Chasing Daylight” is such an evocative phrase. We are all chasing something, it seems, rather than fully living in the moment that is right now. When my dear friend realized last summer, after a four year struggle with cancer, that she wasn’t going to have the miracle she’d hoped for, she had to begin letting go of everything she loved. The sadness was profound; her children are still young.
    “Think of everything I’m going to miss,” she kept saying. “Think of everything you’ve had,” her husband reminded her. Of course, she was poignantly aware of both. I was at her side when she died a month ago. And there is not a day that goes by now that I don’t feel her presence, urging me to be grateful, to pay attention, to love my kids, to savor everything I have. Her death broke me open, in ways that I’m only beginning to understand. We learn so much about how to live by being present with death.

  • It comes down to finding the intersection between your big ideas and your small actions. On my not-quite-ready-for-prime-time site, Suddenly Thursday, I put it as “Dream Big. Live Small.”

    Life moves so fast and we get so much thrown at us each and every day. Though we may have pockets of time when we can reflect, muse, and set goals and intentions, most of us feel a little storm-tossed … just staying afloat until the weekend, next week, next month. It’s hard enough to gain Big Picture perspective, but keeping it is an even bigger challenge.

    Once you’ve got the Big Picture in mind, it’s about finding the small steps to make that vision a reality. Living small helps break down big goals into bite-sized tasks that are less daunting and very do-able. It also means taking time to enjoy the small pleasures that each day brings.

    What’s my plan for my “one wild and precious life?” To know my purpose and my joy and to pursue them both a little each day.

  • Hey Chris,
    It was great to see you in Atlanta, you are inspiring, & geniune !
    This article was touching and really true for me, how important to give intention to each moment. In my view, the bottom line is more around the choice of how we take in Love, give Love, enjoy the goodness of our lives, the whole of it, including the struggles. It seems to me that there is a renewed emphasis on “achieving all you can do/be, the current zeitgeist”. Terrific, really great to have our talents expressed. On the other hand I have a concern that all this ‘questing’ for goals can blur the moment and the importance of life as it shows up. As the books you read demonstrate, illness, loss, pain bring us back to the essential. Fortunately we don’t have to wait for pain, we can cultivate awareness/choice. Thanks much.

  • Bruce Kidson says:

    Chris thanks for the article, having had several brushes with death, your thoughts and opinion of living in the eternal now while pursuing a worthwhile goal that excites you is a great plan for making the most of this awesome life. So that even if we’re to die prematurely we have still made the most of the life we were given.
    The great news is that we live on in those people who we have touched and loved.

  • Dave says:

    Thanks, Chris! This resonates tremendously. I hope it isn’t too morbid to think about how many years you have left and compare that to all of the things you want to do and achieve. I consider 4 to 5 decades left and hundreds of places on my bucket list. With a lot of them requiring some significant physical energy, I better step up the pace and start seeing 5-8 amazing places each year. This post is another great reminder of that.

  • Gail Terp says:

    Thanks for this clarifying post. For me, I must get to Japan.

  • Angeline Munoz says:

    An important and thought provocative post. As I get older (I’m 63) I begin to see more and more how important it is to live life, to be aware of the beauty around me every moment, and to relax and just enjoy my every moment.
    I think that a lot of people slog through their day and are completely unaware of how precious life is; the attitude they seem to have is that life will go on forever.
    Thanks so much for writing this post.

  • John Bulmer says:

    If we were no longer here tomorrow, who would notice?

    As someone who has relocated frequently in life, this scenario has played itself out several times in my life (up to # 13 now). One of my philosophies is that far too many try to fix time and space, when those can not be fixed at any one point. I believe that individuals and societies expend far too many resources in preserving / protecting (and sometimes living in) the past. For me, I hope that my leaving is not noticed. I keep in contact with very few people from my past. My past experiences stay in my memory bank and are reminders of what I used to be, for I constantly evolve.

    What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

    My plan is to live life. I abhor fixing a destination or a goal. The journey through this wonderful thing called life is far more important than any accomplishment or goal.

    jb

  • Indeed, live like you are dying!

    Thanks for sharing Chris.

    Alex

  • Dan Miller says:

    Chris – having just buried my Dad a week ago this post really got my attention. Dad was 97 and knew his death was coming. He had an Amish friend build a nice pine coffin for him, he selected all the songs he wanted sung at his funeral and we all had plenty of time to talk about the end of his life. Like you, I’m not eager for this life to end but I like to think that at any given point I have all my important relationships in order and could leave with the confidence that the legacy I wanted would continue.

    I’m reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote — “It is not length of life, but depth of life.”

  • Interesting post. Having been a hospice volunteer I can definitely concur with the stories of both books. Some of us accept death gracefully, some fight it. A lot has to do with what you believe about life, about God, about life after death. I saw a news video with an interview with a NASA scientist about the high probability that the upcoming solar flares/storms in 2011 and 2012 are likely to leave the USA and parts of the world without electrical power for anywhere from months to years because it’s expected to short out transformers from coast to coast. The US will be most impacted because we’re so energy dependent. As I laid in bed playing out scenarios of roving herds of people killing and pillaging for food I had these same thoughts. What will we do?

  • Thanks for this post. It reminds me that there is yet another conscious choice one can make when faced with this kind of life or death diagnosis. Having been there several times in my own life, I have always chosen to find another way, to chose only an outcome that included life. In my experience many people only see themselves as “physical” beings, yet the power of the soul allows the kind of miracles that are often referred to as “impossible”. There are forces at work that are much greater then the physical and I always encourage people to “be realistic and plan for a miracle”.(Osho). Caroline Myss has an entire book called “Defy Gravity” which speaks to just such possibilities. As a confirmed non-conformist, I appreciate you sharing how you live your life so others can see what is really possible.

  • Gillian says:

    That’s what pushes me forward lately – I don’t want to regret not having taken the chances so, succeed or fail, I’ll push forward. You know, sometimes people ask what you would to differently if you were to do it all over again (life in general, I mean)…my answer is that I would do it ALL differently – next time maybe I would be a hermit living in a cabin on the prairies, or a mother to 6 children, or an astronaut or…my point is that I’ve done with this life the best I can, I don’t want to go back and ‘perfect’ it in any way – I try to live it as perfectly as I can this time.

  • Kier says:

    Fantastic article and very important questions.

    I may not even be halfway through life yet (at least I hope I’m still at least a bit away from my halfway point), but I’m very thankful to have learned early on (after a handful of suicidal teenage years) that you can’t really appreciate or really live life until you’ve come to terms with Death.

    Without devoting energy and time to fearing the inevitable, we can gain and give so much more from everything else.

  • Ross says:

    Good post, Chris. I was having a conversation with some coworkers the other day about how you would change your life if you knew when you were going to die. They all said they would change the way they were living if they knew when they were going to die. I then asked all of them why they weren’t chasing those things right now. Why live the life you want only when you know you’re going to die?

    None of them could answer. All I heard were mumblings of too much work and I can’t right now.

  • Devon says:

    I just spent Thanksgiving squeezing the last few precious moments of face time I will have with my terminally ill granddad. It was great for both of us, and for the whole family to say goodbye and know he is at peace with passing.

    So this post really touched me, and then I got to the end… that Mary Oliver quote is what inspired me to start my blog and what urges me to be present and adventurous every day. The blog is called Answering Oliver : )

  • misha says:

    On a day when I’m struggling with getting bogged down by the “small stuff” this meant a lot to me.
    I am only too aware of the shortness of life, my daughter died very suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 31. Her death made me resolve to always try to live in the present, but it is so, so hard.
    Misha

  • Oh boy, this is why it just kills me to still not be working for my self. My life was not meant to be a slave to the retail world, to continually have ‘superiors’ judge me and tell me how to ‘be my best’, all the while burying my best to fit into their constricting mold for employees. It is a waste of my time and I need out! I can be so much more!
    If only I could figure out how to do that with out starving first…..

  • So poignant. Thanks for this inward-looking post.

    I try to live my life like this ~ reminded my time is limited and what’s the MOST important thing to do right NOW. Its hard to do. Easy to get lost in all the other muck.

  • jason says:

    If you’re not living the life you want, why not?! And if you’re not helping to advance humanity for future generations by dedicating yourself to a deliberate life, I don’t know what you are, but you’re definitely not part of the solution.

  • Bill says:

    At one month from age 69, I find this subject quite interesting.
    A few years ago, I had a cancer scare. It was thankfully a false one, but it motivated me to think about things.
    What I wound up doing was, I wrote a letter to myself I called “First Aid,” an essay really in which I put together my best thoughts on what I believe, that is my faith (Christian) and regarding an afterlife, and why I believe it. I included some information on near death experiences, none of which I have had myself, but reading I have done, and why–while I don’t put my faith in such accounts–I do give them some credence. I spent some time doing this, so the resulting letter wasn’t something “off the top of my head,” so to speak. I saved the letter, so I have it in case of need, and it is comforting that it is there.
    But, yes, thinking about the shortness of this life and what I want to accomplish is really vital. And most often it boils down to people.

  • Contrarian says:

    Hey Chris –

    Very nice to meet you … and good to see a fellow rabble-rouser out there shakin’ up the status quo!

    Found your book on Amazon …which just lead me to your blog, and I enthusiastically agree with your approach to life and work.

    Congrats on your success and I look forward to meeting you … on the road less traveled!

  • Lisa says:

    Thanks for this post. I have been relearning parts of my life since my diagnosis and treatment for oral cancer. I didn’t have risk factors for the disease. And yet, here I am learning to talk again after having my tongue reconstructed with skin from my wrist.

    You never know. Appreciating as much as you can about your life each day is key. Live as if your life matters.

    The converse of this post is true as well. Often we can feel like we are going it alone in the world. When you have something serious happen to you, so much support comes in from others that you didn’t realize was around you all the time. People have stepped in to help me in ways I never thought possible – support I never even realized I needed has come my way.

    Yes, live as if your life matters. Let people know they matter to you and also know that the universe supports you more than you may imagine.

  • Barrie says:

    I wish this “awakening” had happened for me earlier in life as it has for you. I was 50 before I fully embraced that my days truly are numbered, and the each day is so very precious. Around the same time, I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. It really hammered home that the present moment is THE ONLY reality we have. Life is a succession of “right nows” and we must live each right now to the fullest. As a result of these awakenings, I have made some major changes in my life, including letting go of a 25 year PR career and starting over as a coach and blogger. It has been amazing. Thank you for the inspiration you provide as someone who lives with passion!

  • Travis says:

    Several years ago, I was diagnosed with lung cancer and given, at the most, six months to live. Of course, the diagnosis turned out to be false but for one week, I believed my time on earth was about to be over – enough to change my life forever. Things that used to be important before that diagnosis became completely worthless while things I gave little thought to before became of the utmost importance. Family and relationships began to take center stage. Until you’ve stared death right in the face, it’s hard to imagine how you will react but I would advise anyone to live the moment – every moment – right now. This is really all any of us have.

  • I was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer. It still a shock that hasn’t fully sunk in. I caught it early and will only undergo radiation treatment, but it was a wake-up call I wasn’t expecting. I feel like I’ve touched a lot of people’s lives through my work and personal life, but there are a few things that I need to concentrate on.

    #1 is focus on what’s important. Ex. I have a 18 month old son and I would spend a lot of time with him, but not fully there playing with him. I’ve adjusted this. I don’t worry about my business, blog, or dishes in the sink. I focus on playing with him. It’s made such a huge difference in my happiness.

    #2 is my follow through. I have a creative brain, but sometimes too creative. I get caught up in not finishing stuff that I know will help people with their careers and personal development. So lately I’ve focused on picking a project and sticking with it until it’s done.

    #3 is laughing more. I teach about happiness, but need to laugh a lot more.

  • When you have near death experiences or lose a loved one, it often puts your life in perspective. I know my life was forever altered when my brother in law was killed in Iraq five years ago. So the question : What do I plan to do with my one precious and wild life? I plan to enjoy each day the best I can and to positively impact at least one person a day.

  • WOW! What a great thought for today. I found out last week that my 41 year old cousin has breast cancer. It really helped me to slow it down once again and focus on my husband and my children. They and my other family are most important, but at the same time I need to make sure that I am also living for HIM. Life is a balance of making yourself happy, but also realizing what happiness is.

  • Linda says:

    I recognize this answer lacks profundity but I want to be the best mom possible to my 9 y/o son. That is how I measure precious.

  • shanna says:

    As always, Chris, a stellar and thoughtful post. I often ruminate on the precious now while pondering the future wow (that awaits). Staying in the moment requires, for me, a sense of groundedness that often eludes me–I am more often vibrating with ideas and moving around like a hummingbird throughout my day, than being still and calm with a quiet mind. Like you, I generally go to bed excited and wake excited–but it’s not always welcomed, this state of excitement (sleep can be so elusive).

    When I do find the moments of quietude, whether through meditation or practice, I am awestruck by the magnitude of it all; the bigness and richness and full of possibilities that this thing called life can be.

  • Brooke says:

    @Angeline–it’s really amazing to me, seeing people around us going through life as if it’s not going to stop. I’ve had three (!!) fairly major medical issues this year despite taking care of myself in general, and it’s been a real wakeup call for me to do something meaningful and enjoyable.

    @Ross: I’ve heard/seen that situation before, and it never ceases to amaze me. “I’ll wait until I get my death sentence to do the 1000 Things To Do Before I Die.” ??? Meanwhile, I’ll hate life. ???? I figure working at a miserable job just gives people something to complain about… and people *love* to complain! 🙂

    Yet unfortunately, trying to figure my life all out adds yet another level of stress. Am I choosing the *right* pathway? The new one I’m considering requires a second master’s degree, and will it be worth two more years of school? (At some point, I’ll quit researching and jump in, but I have a fear of being held down in a location for 2 years)

  • That question, “If I were no longer here tomorrow, who would notice” – I think about it all the time. And the response needs to be something I’m proud of, not to build personal fame or whatever, but to leave behind a legacy of positive personal impact on the lives around me, in a way that allows them to do the same for the people in their lives.

    That question is a serious wake-up call; it’s always good to think about.

    On a lighter note, long walks alone in a new place sound SOOOO good. 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Perfect moments add up to wonderful lives. I’ve learned to let the universe lend a hand in the crafting and I just want to say…this is the kind of posts that keep me coming back. (The Manifesto got me hooked, mind you…)

    Thanks, Chris. For adding to today’s aliveness.

  • Darren says:

    Although I’m just 17, I’ve had a handful of very near-death experiences, and I can firmly say that it is one of the most eye-opening things that can happen anybody.

    There’s nothing more thought-provoking than realizing you will almost certainly be dead within seconds. It’s as if everything you ‘should’ have been doing at that exact moment is instantly prioritized in your mind.

    I now spend every single day working on my fitness (for a better, healthier, and longer life), business projects (so I won’t ever have to work for anybody else, and can spend every day of my life doing something I love such as travelling), and meeting great people.

    I consider myself extremely fortunate to have come to these realizations early,
    – before it was too late.

  • David Jehlen says:

    Like Travis, I recently believed that I was dying. Everything shifted. I looked at my wife and 5 and 3 year old boys wondering what their lives would be like after I died.
    Fortunately, it was a misdiagnosis. My energy is different, my priorities are more focused and my committment to adding value to this world is so much stronger. I’d like to think that we can learn the lesson of valuing our mortality without believing we are dying but I think it is extremely difficult to truly get into that mindset otherwise. Great post, thanks.

  • Terry says:

    Thanks so much for the wonderful post. Lately, I’ve been thinking about my death a lot; I’m in perfect health, but as you say, things can change in an instant. I hope when it’s my time to leave the planet, I’ve given people enough of a reason to notice I’m gone.

    I love this site and am so happy I found it. Thanks again, Chris.

  • The fact that I’m going to die, maybe today, maybe in 50 years, seems to cross my mind a lot. Instead of depressing me, the thought makes me grateful for being alive. I consider the dumb luck that I was born in the first place, and that I’m not dead yet, even after a couple of car crashes, a tandem sky dive, food poisoning in an Indian heat wave, getting drugged on a train in France, and a tumor scare… or even those childhood moments I can’t remember, like when I choked on a plastic grape. I appreciate your reminder that each moment is a gift. Because I think this way: everyone I love knows it, the most meaningful things I want to do at least get started – we’ll see if I finish – and when I had that tumor scare and filled out my living will, I realized I have no lingering regrets.

  • Sean says:

    When I was in school, I had an acting teacher teach us a great deal about being mindful and living in the moment. While she was teaching us different acting techniques, I watched as she “pretended” to eat food, comb her hair, zip up her jacket, etc. She was so deliberate. She did it all in a way that left such an impression on me that almost daily I’ll stop, slow down, and then be mindful. And that was 8 years ago!

    Living in the present is vital to everyday happiness. We can learn it from a dying person, an acting teacher, or a great post like this!

    Thank you CG!

  • Erica says:

    Ahh, a wonderful line of questioning, and one that sparked defining limits of my life’s goals… Namely, to create a world where humans can live daily as they would on their last. To me, that has come to mean creating a world where we are not pushed from job to shop to tv to sleep and repeat. It’s a world where it’s more common to make a new friend than to make a new piece of (fill in the blank disposable consumer product). I’m pretty sure that’s what you’re doing too (everyone here?!) so perhaps there is hope of changing the status quo soon enough.
    Anyhow thank you for sharing, the book recommendations and your thoughts. Posts like this one are quite enjoyable to read from you.

    All my mental sunshine,
    Erica

  • Maria says:

    Good stuff…this is mostly what travels through my mind on a daily basis. My introspection abilities intensified through some life choices that took me through lots of challenges; some traumatizing, some sad, some undeserved adversities… however, through it all, in this life, I find that it is better to seek and ask the questions instead of seeking answers to the questions. Questions push you on the journey. Answers may keep you still. This side of eternity, questions are more important. On the other side, the answers are present without asking. Cherish your Questions! Maria

  • Nadine says:

    If I knew I only had 90 days left, I would quit my job. Drain my savings account, and spend it on my husband and me traveling and seeing the great sights of the world. Kissing by the Eiffel Tower, making love on the beach, visiting Nepal, etc.

    Let’s say I do this, without any sort of diagnosis. The problem is after 90 days I would be completely broke. :/

  • Christopher says:

    1. Share life with a family and a community.
    2. Do what I want every day.
    3. Change the world.

    Thank you Chris.

  • Beautiful post, Chris. After a year of losing a couple of people close to me, I started volunteering with hospice and, so far, have found it to be a really wonderful experience. I know the families really appreciate it.

    As for living a life of meaning or making some difficult changes, even when we know we should and in theory could do it any day, I notice it often takes a drastic or traumatic event to push us to really do it — if we do it. As David above said, it is “extremely difficult to truly get into that mindset otherwise.”

  • Erica says:

    I like this post–confronting my own mortality terrifies me, and I know it’s because I haven’t done anything that’s personally fulfilling. I’m already doing things to change the lack of fulfillment part, but one area I lack is relationships–I keep telling myself I don’t have time, I have better things to do, I don’t need a relationship, but I know I will regret not having someone to share things with. So what I’m going to do with my one life is try to be open to a relationship, no matter the outcome.

    During my grandfather’s last hospital stay, the doctors told my grandmother to start calling family in to say goodbye. My mother told me not to come because she thought they were over-exaggerating. I made the trip anyway, and my grandfather died 3 days later. I got to spend that time with him and my family. One of the better decisions I’ve made, I think.

  • Lisa B. says:

    What do I plan to do with my one wild and precious life? Love it, live it, enjoy the small and big and hard and wonderful moments of it all. Not hold back from being my true self. Bring my gift of connection to the world and help people to connect with their hearts, dreams, and bring their unique brilliance into the world. Have an immeasurable positive impact on the human experience and on human consciousness. Love our Earth and love my human sisters and brother. Help bring feminine strength and power out of the shadows and into the light of our collective consciousness, so that we all may live more fulfilling, sustainable, loving, caring, connected lives.

    Thank you Chris for this post! It creates a gorgeous mindset.

  • Delores says:

    I just spent the month of November participating in National Novel Writing Month. I wrote a fictionalized memoir and used the writing to explore my life, past and present. Not that you have to write 50,000 words! But it was a great way to explore what I do and don’t want to keep in my life and how I want to contribute to the world.

  • I had some up close and personal experience with this watching my Dad go through this, which I think he did in a dignified and respectable way.
    I think, regardless of whether or not you want to “fight” to survive or just transition and move on to the next phase, either one is a personal choice. I’ve seen the same person do both at different times and there is no right or wrong answer here, in my opinion, those some of those around you may try to convince you to stay…why wouldn’t they? They love you, right? In your leaving those same people would probably feel loss or misalignment in your absence.

    The first priority is to let go of your fear.
    Second, find peace.
    Third, understand you are an eternal being…there is no end.

    Now, the awesome part is if you can truly realize all of those things while you are still alive; thereby learning to, “Die while you are still alive.” (ever hear that Indian story about the parrot and the guy?)

    This is enlightenment.

    Nealon Hightower

  • Jessica says:

    So I’m reading a book right now and came across this quote… “don’t tell me about the labor, show me the baby” That sums up how I would like to live my life…I refuse to be all talk, I want to be all doing and others can see, but I want to be done “talking myself into myself” I want to BE.

  • Hey, Chris. I was just thinking along these lines a couple of days ago. I thought about my nephews and wondered, “What will they remember me for?” For most people, aunts, uncles, and extended family kind of fade from memory as they get older, but I don’t want that to be true for my nephews. I want them to know me like I knew one of my favorite aunts, who passed away just last year and who had lived away from me for the last ten years of her life. Will I make that kind of impact on them? What will remember about me? Right now, I can say that they’d probably remember me as the aunt who always had gum. They raid my purse every time they see me, all of the kids, but really, do I want to be known as the aunt who always had gum? Things have got to change! 🙂

    Lighter way to look at this topic, I guess, but the point is, you’re right, we have to be very intentional with how we live our lives each day.

  • Chatty says:

    I sure hope Pastor Jamey follows his sermon with…I would notice if any of you were gone! There are people who suffer with depression that just might take this statement to heart and decide that nobody would notice, and decide to end their life. It doesn’t matter what you have accomplished, or what you have done in this society. The only thing that matters is the loving relationships you have with others. Most people have at least one person or pet they give and receive love from. Why does our Society put so much emphasis on doing, having, accomplishing etc.? My only regrets when I leave this World is that those I leave behind will suffer for awhile. Hopefully my teaching them to have faith that love will keep us together (isn’t that a song!) will help them to realize, I will always be with them.
    I do believe in doing what I love and living life on my terms, BUT my loving relationships usually come first over my self goals. Why, because I don’t want any regrets.

  • Joe Grella says:

    Excellent article and appropriate questions….Most of us dont want to think about death but
    the questions are excellent in assisting us in making our lives more fruitful. We all like to
    believe we have “more time” but in reality the time is now. You have made me rethink
    the values in my life and “prepare” for what I would like to leave behind. Thank you for
    bringing these stories and questions to us. God Bless You and keep on “writing.”

  • Jesse says:

    This is a powerful message and one that a lot of us do not take seriously. I really makes you think about doing something that will not only make a difference to the this world, but also make a difference to yourself and those that are closest to you. I appreciate the article, think I would like to purchase both books, thanks for bringing them to our attention. Hey Chris, keep doing what you are doing, you are an inspiration.

  • connie b says:

    A timely post. I am living my wild and precious life by traveling with my little dog, Layla, who is 16 and has been with me since she was 5 weeks old. We are currently living in Banos, Ecuador under a volcano that has been erupting for the past 2 weeks. The primal, forceful nature of el volcan with its roaring sound and spectacular spewing lava keeps me most definitely in the moment. Layla contracted encephalitis 5 months ago and a few days ago was diagnosed with cancer of the kidneys so our days together are numbered and being with her and making her days as happy and comfortable as possible is my priority. All of those years when I was working long hours and she was in the house alone when we could have been playing together–gone forever but thankfully I took the early retirement incentive and we have had a glorious year together and I know those memories will console me when the day comes. I’m not sure who will notice or miss me when I’m gone but I know who I will miss–Layla

  • Dan Waters says:

    I certainly echo the concept of living with a purpose. If you don’t know where you’re going you’ll definately get lost. If I can live a bit, give a bit and learn a bit each day then I’m happy.

  • Kai says:

    This is a timely post for me too. My father was put on life support last week and we are struggling with the decision of how long to leave him on the machines.
    My personal relationship with death is peaceful and accepting of what will happen to all of us eventually.
    Unfortunately my dad doesn’t seem to be at peace with dying which makes this time very difficult for us as we try to honor his wishes to use “heroic measures” to keep him alive and watch as he suffers terribly.
    On a positive note my dad’s illness (twelve years and counting) has given me the opportunity to reflect on what is really important as you addressed in your post. I consider this a gift my dad has given me that I am grateful for. I realize the relationships I nurture mean more to me than anything and being a self proclaimed workaholic have made efforts over the last year to put more of my energy into the people in my life I love and care about.
    I’m also going to check out the books you mentioned. Thank you.

  • In January, 2000 I read the book “North to the Night”. It is about a couple who sailed their boat into the arctic circle in order to stay there for a year. When asked why they would make that choice knowing they would likely die doing so, the author wrote, “death is one of many ways to lose a life”.

    In June of 2000, I was given the opportunity to move to Hawai’i to paint full time. I quit a great job with people I really enjoyed in order to fulfill a lifelong dream. It’s been tough at times, and still I highly recommend living life to the fullest to everyone!

  • Zophyr says:

    As a component of our Masters studies, a friend and I wrote a course called “Final Matters” about anticipating and preparing for one’s own death. It’s not meant to be morbid, and we injected quite a bit of humor. When we offered to teach it, we got one registrant. (Go figure. ; ) The process was invaluable for us, though, and we have continued, these many years later, to live as though we might not live forever.

  • Vince says:

    Great post. I have thought about things like this before. While dying sucks, it is also a part of life.

    Does it scare me? You bet.

    Do I let the fear control my life? Absolutely not.

    I went to Cedar Point this Memorial day and rode some of the rides. While I am not afraid of rides, there was one, that while on it, scared the crap out of me. It didn’t scare me because it was the tallest or fastest. I scared me because the restraints didn’t seem to be enough.

    I closed my eyes and held on for dear life at the beginning. Then I had a powerful realization. If was going to go today, then there would be nothing I could do to stop it.

    I made myself open my eyes, and let go of the seat. I was scared but I decided not to let the fear of something that might happen win.

  • Mona Gable says:

    I was stunned to see this post today. Thanks you so much for sharing on such a meaningful and yet difficult topic. Three weeks ago one of my oldest friends died after a four-year struggle with breast cancer. In her final months she was so ill she did not tell any of her closest friends because she did not want us to see her that way. But she also never really believed she was going to die. When her sister called to tell me she had died, it was a horrible shock. There were so many things I didn’t get to tell her, including how much I loved her. The positive note in all this is she died in her lovely apartment, with her sister by her side and a hospice nurse.

    Now my brother has been diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. He is handling it with remarkable grace and is eager to talk about what he’s feeling. Although I’m horribly sad, I am reading everything I can to gain strength and perspective. You made my day.

  • merle says:

    I was thinking about this last night after a coaching session on what to do next with my life. For some reason, the image of a merry-go-round on a playground came to me and I thought of how when we’re young we push and push the merry-go-round to get it going and then hop on to enjoy the ride. Then, we must continue to push now and then to keep it going. And sometimes we push awhile so that others may enjoy the ride. But we don’t know whether this is a good merry-go-round and will spin a long time or whether it’s not very good and will grind to a halt more quickly. Either way, sadly, the ride on this merry-go-round will eventually come to an end. Let’s do our best to play well with others until that time comes.

  • Brad Graves says:

    Timely and spot on. As late thirty-something year old parents of four children all under 8 years of age, we are actively going through the challenging process of putting together our “custody and estate plan.” I really like the question Chris highlights that puts it in perspective – “who would notice if you were gone.”

    So often a lot of us spend our mid-life years chasing daily to-do’s and deadlines without putting the perspective of how short human lives really are. For me studying biographies like Chris highlighted really have put everything in perspective.

  • Karen says:

    Just had a similar conversation with my 48yo bro who was recently diagnosed with aggressive/terminal brain cancer with prognosis of 50% survival rate for 12-14 mths, and about 3-5% past 2 yrs. So, he’s preparing to die, and living each day more in the moment than ever before. Its a wake-up call to all of those around him. I’m trying to use it effectively in my own life, to be present with my dear children and husband. To live as if I have but a short time, and yet make plans for a great future together.

    Thanks for the reminder, too.

  • It’s funny how often a big change only comes after a major crisis. I call this “being walloped upside the head by the Universe.” Great changes frequently result, but it sure would be preferable to be able to make that change without being walloped!

    The last time I got thusly walloped was earlier this year, which sent me on my current journey to follow my evolving Bliss (because Bliss, I’ve discovered, does evolve) and create the life I really, really want.

    In less than 6 months’ time I went from being pretty darn miserable, to being incredibly happy — all because I made the decision to live the life I want right now.

    An essential part of that life is to make a difference for other people. Everyone has a different calling, and a different way they go about it. Finding your own groove, though, where you get to chase your Bliss through its twists & turns & transmutations, and make a difference for others at the same time – that’s heaven on earth, IMHO.

  • Powerful questions Chris; really gets the mind thinking about the possibilities that we have in this life. The quote from Mary Oliver was great…””wild and precious life”. What a great way to see life!

    Many times we spend our resources creating a “safe” lifestyle so that we can minimize hurts, disasters or crises. But in the end we only succeed in creating a false barrier in life. A barrier that conforms us to a life of mediocrity or monotony.

    Chris, thanks for challenging the status-quo and living in a way that helps others to ask themselves the difficult questions…and begin to see life as “wild and precious”!

  • One thing I think is especially difficult is the loss of parents.

    After being raised by them it becomes very hard to see them in decline.

    After recently losing my aunt, I was able to see up close the work of Hospice. There simply are no words I can come up with to express the gratitude that I have for those people. It was simply amazing to see them care for her and give her quality of life in the weeks that she had left.

    We were able to visit with her regularly, and up until about 2 days before she passed away, she still had mental clarity.

    I encourage people to donate to Hospice providers whenever they can. They are wonderful resources. Thank you for a great article.

  • Aaron says:

    I can’t understand why anyone would resign themselves to death, even after being diagnosed with a terminal disease. Over the past 1,000 years, we’ve increased the average person’s lifespan from 25 to 80 years through science. There are new breakthroughs in medicine and life extension practically every day — unless you believe there’s something better waiting for you on the other side, why would you ever give up and resign yourself to your fate? If someone truly reveres life, wouldn’t they fight to preserve theirs until the very end? I think I would.

  • Ryan Renfrew says:

    The biggest influence on making choices is urgency, as demonstrated by the CEO who only had 90 days to live. Imagine the gratitude and productivity in our daily lives if we truely shifted to a mindset of living everyday like it was our last, I reckon we would be a lot happier too.

  • Dave says:

    My Dad died 9 years ago. A fast acting, brutal cancer gave him 2 months to live. 20 months later he was cancer free. In that time, he found himself.

    He realized “people were the secret–the answer.” He beat it. He was cancer free!

    As a father and husband, he was a tyrant. Cruel, violent, and emotionally unpredictable, this was a revelation to not only him, but shocked the hell out of us (my mom and I).

    He promptly announced he had started an online relationship, and was planning to divorce the woman that had stood by him while he faced the abyss. His first grandson was to be born in June. By then he would be in another state, with a new life, and come visit when the time had arrived

    He happily planned his divorce, went back to work and threw himself into life full force in it’s new course. We struggled, revulsed, fought, and dealt. Confused, angry, resentful, it seamed unjust to keep my dad’s plans a secret. His wife insisted it was the cancer. His son insisted it..

  • Sally says:

    I love your blog, Chris, and ironically have been on this subject for the last week- I’m surrounding myself with those I love and those who love me back- I’m singing with the music- happy upbeat music and burst into sashays down the halls- the kids think I am crazy, but they love it anyway. Lots and lots of laughter- this is happy therapy. Life is so precious, expiration dates vary. No redos allowed- savor every second before the big sleep!

  • shona cole says:

    Taking time to re-focus on the swiftness of time itself always helps me to put things in perspective. I have been working on an art/poetry project with some vintage family photos. Looking at the faces of my dead relatives makes me want to treasure everyday more and especially enjoy my kids more cause one day, so soon it seems, my little people will be adults. So my goal is to revel in my kids more and more, and to continue to develop a family business idea, something they can work at when they are teens and young adults, so they can gain good work experience & I have something developed when my young mothering days are over.

  • Galen Pearl says:

    What interesting timing. I just blogged recently about showing up for our lives. This is part of what I wrote–

    Show up and participate in your life. Woody Allen said that 80% of success is just showing up.

    Several people I know have died this year. People my age. People who were busy making other plans that did not include dying. So besides missing them, I’ve had my own mortality in my face, up close and personal. And if I didn’t realize it before, I certainly realize now that life is short. While I’m worrying about all the things that might happen in some future I might not even live to see, I’m missing my life right now.

    My friends gave me many gifts during their lifetimes, but with their deaths they gave me the gift of an intense appreciation for this very precious present moment.

    “Life is short, and we have but little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel this way with us. Oh, be swift to love. Make haste to be kind.”

  • Margaret says:

    What do I plan to do with (the rest of) my wild and precious life? Observe with compassion, act with thought and understanding, create with love, and give what I can when I can.

  • Brigid says:

    Having seen many people die in my life and experiencing a few situations when I thought my time was up, I look at my impending death as a ‘kick in the butt’ to get going and do exactly what I want.
    Many people have questioned my decisions over the last few years (because I have changed quite a few things), but I know that I am happy just being in this life and experiencing all the wonderful myriad of opportunities that come my way.
    Fear of death is probably our biggest fear and when we are confronted with it it can be our biggest liberator. We know we have nothing more to fear and can therefore live our life to its fullest.
    Nice post, thanks

  • Terry Krysak says:

    I am not a preacher, so please don’t consider my comments as “preaching” or trying to change your “belief system”

    Everybody dies, even Guru’s, and enlightened people.

    Through the practice of Kriya Yoga (meditation) as taught by Paramahansa Yogananda, the most important thing for me in life is to reach the highest level of consciousness possible in “this” lifetime.

    Why you ask? Because if you reach a high enough state, you don’t have to come back if you don’t want to.

    I read a fascinating article on “what happens when you die” by doing a Google search on (kriya yoga what happens when you die) and I won’t say anything else except the article I found was from a Kriya Yoga center in Chicago.

    If I had notice that I was going to die, I would meditate like crazy, even more than at present and “Pray”. As a true example of Prayer, a dear relative of mine (age 59) was diagnosed with cancer of the esophogus and stomach about two months ago and is now in a cancer clinic.

    His friend (a doctor) looked at his medical records and told him to “get his affairs in order”.

    Some of us have been praying and asking that his cancer be cured. I just found out two days ago that his cancer in his throat is gone! I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

  • Joy says:

    Last year I was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer and given a few months to live..Still here:) Holistic healing and a heart that has much more to contribute! I am a single mom of two young children, and surrounded by many who love us…Even then I knew two things: I had lived well, with no regret and no hurts to amend because I live mindfully present. And two, I choose peace each and every day..so was even at peace with dying. It was those around me who panicked, understandably.
    If I have one day or a trillion I want to live the same: knowing I open my heart fully and experience as much as the natural flow allows.. Every day I say I love you, I tell those who enriched my life that day thank you, and I am grateful for the experience in the day.

  • Ken Robert says:

    Great post, Chris. I too try to live in the present while looking forward to the future, but it’s trying at times. Drawing, writing poetry, and listening to music are three things that help me stay in the present. They increase my awareness of what’s going on around me and within me.

    Thanks for your work.

  • Ann Kurz says:

    Be Here Now. That is the answer to your question! Also we need to remember about the pebble thrown into the pond; the ripples are the lives we have touched, whether positively or negatively. A friend of mine, Leo Buscaglia, once told me to tell people you love that you love them; to hug people closely as if you really mean it, and to celebrate the everyday miracles all around us. When Leo died, he knew people would try to travel to his funeral from all over the world, so he asked each of us to go somewhere, watch a sunset on a certain day (he did this through postcards to all of his friends and family, via his friend publisher Steven Short), and celebrate LIFE!! Then he asked each of us to make a commitment, while watching that sunset, to make our life, the people in it, and the world BETTER than we found it! What a legacy!!!!

  • Recently went to the Celebration of Life for a friend. She had a Bucket List

    1. Acknowledge Everyone 2. Love Everyone 3. Forgive Everyone
    4. Be Compassionate

    Her Inspiration

    “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

    I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

    I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations”

    George Bernard S

  • Francoise says:

    Oh yes, days are counted and nevertheless we regularly forget it. And when it is clear that they are counted it isn’t easy to face. I remember a few situations in which luck was on my side. Even though I know that perfectly well, posts like yours Chris need to pass by to remind us.
    I miss a few people I have known – amongst them my mother – who all left way before anyone expected. It was strange to see how all of them handled the situation and from that perspective I understand quite well why it’s sometimes difficult to feel comfortable when confronted with death. It needs a lot of caring and love. It can also mean to let loose – I remember at least one situation where I felt that it was important to let loose, it somehow was necessary to give the permission to dye .. which is quite frightening and still might also have been my way to accept death.

  • Lainey says:

    Both of my parents died at early ages, well, before retirement age. I like Connie Bs idea of traveling with her dog. I want to do that with my dog. he’s young and I just retired from a job. I have some free time before I think about going back to work, if I do at all. So, a trip will be something to look forward to, and something I’ve always wanted to do.

    I want to go to Italy too. Guess the dog will stay home for that one.

    One thing though, many people who end up sick don’t have the option of quitting their jobs. Some of them have to work until they physically cannot anymore due to their economic status. That’s kind of sad too.

  • JoAnna says:

    I’m not going to lie – thinking about death scares the crap out of me … so I just don’t do it. Instead, I try to live every day so that, if I do die tomorrow, I’m satisfied that yesterday was as good as it could be.

  • Marly says:

    Death simply means that you no longer exist, and the only thing that remains of you is what people remember about you and the things you leave behind. And it can come so quickly! I want to live my life so that if a Mack Truck rolls over me, the people I love will remember my words and my laughter with joy and to be encouraged in their hearts by them. I want to leave a written trail of fun and insight and encouragement to not only my immediate circle, but also to people who live 500 years from now, whether or not they are in my bloodline. But also, if I live to be a very old lady, even if people have to take care of my body physically, I still want my words to be an encouragement and a joy.

  • Brett Henley says:

    “we don’t always get to choose how things turn out, so it’s important to make sure we are deliberate in the things we do have control over.”

    If I could wake every day with this sentence looping in my head, I’d be happy working to find a place of balance and purpose.

    Is it being mindful, or allowing experiences to happen organically and embracing these? Most difficult aspect of being human for most of us is determining where we need to create opportunity and where we need to let go.

    At least, there is where I struggle the most.

    Thanks Chris, as always, poignant and thoughtful.

  • Chris, I have just started following your website and this is my first time commenting. Your post as well as all the comments came at the right time for me. I have been waiting to launch my website and keep putting it off because it isn’t perfect and maybe nobody will read or like it. But if not now, when? Who knows how many tomorrows I will have. So what I plan to do with my wild and precious life is stop being afraid and just SHARE it! Share my magic, because we all have our very own and someone out there needs some of it. Keep writing posts like this and I will keep reading and sharing them. thanks

  • Omar says:

    Gotta read those books. Puts life in perspective. We have to live and not exist. Thanks Chris.

  • Pascal says:

    Excellent post Chris, it makes me remember also about the movie the Bucket List in which the two main actors are facing a similar situation about their forthcoming death. They both decided to go on and try the enjoy what they have always dreamt about, the bucket list (things you want to do before dying). I created my own bucket list not so long ago on my blog too.

    Cheers!

    Pascal, from Sydney

  • Jen M. says:

    For a very long time, I was afraid of dying. Nowadays, I use that knowledge–the knowledge that everything is ephemeral and temporary–to remind myself to be the best me I can, every single day.

    Regardless of what we believe happens after we die, our time on Earth is a gift. It is precious. It deserves respect.

    This is a beautiful post.

  • My thoughts almost exactly, Jen.

  • John Meade says:

    In my 20’s I let it be known
    I planned
    to die too young
    at a very old age.
    I’m now 84;
    it’s still a good plan.

  • dale says:

    I’ve been following this blog for a while, and last year when this particular
    post came out, it caught my attention and I read it to my wife. She had breast cancer, it had spread to her bones, and right at the time of this blog post, we found out it has spread to her brain. She fought, but she was pragmatic. She knew she couldn’t beat it, and she lived her life to the fullest possible given her condition. She passed away on Jan 13 at the young age of 63. She was in the “seek closure” crowd. We did major items on her bucket list — we took our granddaughter to Disneyland, we took our son and grandson to a Packers game in Green Bay, we took a cruise to Alaska, we spent time together. Wheelchairs are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign of working with what you have. She called old friends and talked for hours. She built memories. They cried, she cried, and I’m still crying, but the world was a better place with her in it. She died at peace, and I hope I go as well as she did.

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