My brother, Bob, diagnosed with his first brain tumor at sixteen, died when he was forty. He beat insurmountable odds. In the last years of his life, he was wheelchair-bound, and his brain lived in the past. Incredibly, through all the surgeries and pain, he never once complained or uttered, “why me?”
A life that blessed many along the way but ended at an age that’s often a “halfway point.”
Many years ago, I had three miscarriages. They were heartbreaking. I didn’t understand the “why.”
Lives that were not birthed into this world but blessed me for the time I carried them.
The beginning of life.
The end of life.
The in-between of life.
We often live like we have all the time in the world.
Ernest Becker, an anthropologist who authored The Denial of Death, wrote, “Society is a vehicle for earthly heroism. Man transcends death by finding meaning in his life. It is the burning desire for the creature to count. What man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance“. Wow!
For a very long time, I’ve been aware of my human body’s eventual extinction, believing that our spirits live on and we don’t cease to exist when our physical bodies die, but Becker’s words prompted me to think about “heroism” differently.
Most of us, I believe, want to “be heroic.”
Every day we make choices—even when we “decide not to decide.” Many of us have made decisions that we wish we could “take back.” We can’t undo the past, but we can be aware of our future alternatives by determining and honoring what truly matters. If it’s the latest handbag, then genuinely enjoy it. If it’s changing the world (even one sentence at a time), do that!
What do you value most? What will you do with that knowledge?
We often devote so much energy, planning for “One Big Thing,” obsessing over details, putting daily life on hold, ignoring the now to get to the “one big thing” faster. Then when it’s over: the vacation, the wedding, the remodel, or the event, we’re left a little flat, so we run to the “Next Big Thing” to reclaim that feeling of excitement, believing it will make life better. Often, it doesn’t work that way.
Days that are exciting and “special” add exclamation points to our stories, but all the moments between them have value too.
Maranaste is “death awareness” using visualization and contemplation to consider our departure from this earthly existence.
Recognizing the limitations of our human bodies opens the door to discovering what’s at the core of life.
Many fully alive humans are lifeless inside. They’ve closed off their hearts or minds and given up. They’ve done battle too many times to put the armor back on and haven’t experienced enough love to risk trying again, so walk through life simply waiting for finality. They’re like birds with broken wings, unable to soar where their spirits naturally want to take them.
Do you ever feel like your wings have been clipped and that you just can’t fly?
When love is overshadowed, we can spiral into anxiety, fear, sadness, loneliness, and destruction—of our world, our country, our cities, our faith communities, our families, and ourselves.
Lean into relationships that foster, not minimize, your spirit.
If nothing else, COVID-19 has shown us the fragility of life.
Be kind to yourself and the people you’re with; open the gates to love if you’ve been holding them closed.
Many of us will live long, productive lives. Some of us will live with challenges and pain, our lives ending at a “halfway point” like my courageous brother, Bob. Others will grace this planet for a very short time.
Honor each day as a matter of life or death.
What is your truth?
What truly has meaning to you?
The choices you make every day, every hour, and every minute impact your experience on this planet.
While there’s time, choose kindness. Choose love. Choose life.
What if you reach out to five people today to let them know they matter to you? It could be as simple as emailing, texting, or saying, “you matter to me!”
What if you ask those five folks to reach out to five more people?
What if each of them then touches the lives of five more?
What if you start a revolution of spreading love?