Click here if you missed Part Three.
Recap: We spend so much time merely existing. It’s time to be winning at life. Winning is not always about coming in first. As Dr. Brene Brown tells us, in Call to Courage, maybe, it’s about doing the really brave thing. Life is hard, scary, risky and dangerous even, but not as scary as getting to the end of life and wondering why we didn’t do any of those things while living. What is the big discovery? Be brave, show up, be seen, come off the blocks and dive into the beautiful life that was meant for all of us. Live Like We’re Dying!
As humans, we want to rush everything and we want answers now. But that’s not always how life’s journey works. Bianca Sparacino sums it up well.
“Listen–you are going to find the things that make you feel free in life. You are going to fall into the deepest love — with another human being and with yourself. You are going to discover the things that fill you with purpose, the things that make you want to rise each morning. You are going to feel hope cracking within all of the dark the past has buried within you; you are going to uncover all of that light. You are going to figure things out. But you must understand that there is no set timeline for this kind of discovery, there is no checklist for this kind of growth. You may fall in love tomorrow, or you may fall in love ten years from now. You might discover your passion the day after you graduate, or you might be fifty years old before you finally find the thing that causes your heart to ache with happiness. Whatever it is — just give it time. Be gentle with yourself, do not rush the way you stretch into the person you are becoming. Do not scramble to fill your life with things that are not for you just because you feel like you are falling behind. You are not falling behind — you are falling into yourself. So please, keep going. Everything that is meant to be yours will be yours. It will come. It Will Come.”
“The boundlessness of love is made evident when the veils between this world and the invisible world are thinnest. At birth and death, love melts away any division…in such moments, we glimpse a love without limitation, a love unlike the commerce-like reciprocal exchange that characterizes many romantic relationships (as when someone else expresses love for us and we feel obliged to react in turn). This is an entirely different order of love, one that springs from the very source of our being. It recognizes and responds to the intrinsic goodness of the human heart. It is both profoundly receptive and dynamically expressive.
This facet of love…exists both before and beyond conditions. It is not something to be achieved by our personalities. It is not an idealistic love to be attained by following a certain path, nor is it the result of reaching a special spiritual state. It is always present. In a way, it is the background for all experience, the very essence of our being.
This love is the source that allows us to welcome everything and push away nothing. The sort of fearless openness required to turn toward our suffering is only possible within the spacious receptivity of love.”
Lesson 4: It’s Your Life
“You can always choose. No matter what the decision is, no matter what the obstacle is, no matter WHAT it is. YOU always have a choice. Stop blaming everything else. If you want to blame anything, blame fear, but that’s silly too because you have a choice in that as well. We will all get old and we will all die one day. Not one person on this earth will beat death. To me, death beats fear, so think of that when you have a choice to make. You live once! Love who you want to love and do what you want to do, be who you want to be and see what you want to see! None of us know when our time will be up and the clock doesn’t stop for anyone, so get to it! Live the life you want, it’s all YOUR choice. Stop making it complicated and just start.” ~J. L. Houstoun
I know you might be thinking, “Yeah, right Karen!” Life is difficult at times and I can’t argue that. But if we stop and really think about it, how much of the difficulty is because of our choices? My guess, it’s a pretty significant percentage. I am quite certain, in most cases, no one forced us to lie, steal, cheat, drink, take drugs, gamble, overeat, abuse others…we made those decisions all on our own. If our lives are miserable because our own choices, that’s no one’s fault but our own.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times the actions of others (family, friends, employers, government, partners, criminals, etc.) that can cause us pain we did not choose. That being said, we can control how we handle these scenarios. We don’t have to live our lives as victims, we don’t have to choose to self-medicate, we don’t have to become like those who hurt us. We have choices every day and we can control the outcome; we can control how we live our lives. We have the power to rewrite the story of our lives.
We ruin our life by tolerating it. At the end of the day, we should be excited to be alive. When we settle for anything less that what we innately desire, we destroy the possibility that lives inside of us, and in that way, we cheat both ourselves and the world of our potential. The next Picasso could be sitting behind a computer right now writing an invoice for staples because it pays the bills, or because it’s comfortable, or because he/she can tolerate it. Do NOT let this happen to us. Do not ruin our lives this way. Life and work, and life and love are not irrespective of each other. They are intrinsically linked. We have to strive to do extraordinary work, we have to strive to find extraordinary love. Only then will we to into an extraordinarily blissful life.
Steve Jobs said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the biggest choices in life. Almost everything…all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure…these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” In other words, Live Like We Are Dying!
Lesson 5: Now is The Time
- Don’t wait
- Welcome everything
- Bring your whole self to the experience
- Find a place of rest in the middle of things
- Explore new things: places, foods, music, creative outlets,
- Get comfortable with death; strike up a friendship with it, do not be afraid
- Really, it’s inevitable whether you like it (or are prepared) or not
- Stop wasting energy trying to pretend you aren’t going to die
- Step into the real world of mortality and make it a kick-ass experience
- Death is an essential part of life on Earth
- The cycle/circle of life includes birth and death
- Death is all around and allows for rebirth
- Death is life’s best friend
- It’s universal–not matter what our race, culture, religion, political beliefs, etc.
- We are each born, we each die
- Regardless of our differences, we all face the same outcome
- A possible pathway to peace and understanding is to share our common pain and fear of death.
- Let death connect us
- It brings an end to suffering
- It brings a merciful end to agony
- Knowing that it will come, without fail, can be a source of comfort
- Death makes each moment precious
- When we fully recognize that life is limited, we can acknowledge the need to make every moment count
- We can make deeper connections
- We can truly savor every experience
- Really, it’s inevitable whether you like it (or are prepared) or not
Death points us toward living! When we truly live, we can honor the things that matter most: forgiveness, compassion, friendship, laughter, friends, family, empathy, faithfulness, experiences, the journey, and most importantly–LOVE!
Life is short, waste not one breath! Live Like We’re Dying!
Dr. Karen Wyatt, M.D., “What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying”. Sunroom Studios. February 21, 2012
Frank Ostaseski, ”The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully”. Flatiron Books. New York, NY. 2017