Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Awareness, Acceptance and Gratitude - The Lessons of Mortality

This guest post by Dennis Merritt Jones, from a recent newsletter... 

“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” 
- Michael Landon 

We have all heard the saying “Life is too short not to enjoy it.” Recently, I presided over a memorial service for a young man who died suddenly and it really brought this saying to mind. A number of people stood and shared a story or memory of their dear departed friend and I was moved by the commonality of the sentiment, “If I had only known...I wish I’d had the chance to tell him how much I loved him, or, what a difference he made in my life.” Others sadly bemoaned the fact that their friend didn’t live long enough to realize his lifelong goal of surfing the Great Barrier Reefs in Australia.

I have been thinking a lot about this and considering some of the things I have been putting off doing and how many people I have neglected connecting with because I have been so “busy” doing life. I just celebrated my 60th year on the planet. Those 60 years equate to approximately 21,900 days, or 525,960 hours, or in more finite terms, 31,556,926 minutes. Today I am living in a renewed awareness of how precious each one of those days, hours and minutes were. I have to admit it pains me a bit when I consider how many of those irreplaceable moments were spent in less than wise ways. However, it has enabled me to make a conscious choice regarding how my hours and minutes will be spent  today, which is all any of us have.

It seems endemic in our culture that we tend to put off taking care of what’s truly important, which includes living our life to the absolute fullest, enjoying every microsecond of today with those people who matter the most. We assume tomorrow will be the right time, and yet we   tomorrow never comes, because when it does, it will be NOW. Now is not just the right time--it’s the only time. Unlike the latest cell phone service providing “rollover minutes,” once the minutes of our life (and the opportunities they offer) pass us by they are gone forever, never to be lived again.

When my last day on earth comes, I don’t want to have to look back and say, if I had only known, I would have spent fewer hours at the office, taken that trip to Thailand, learned to sky dive, written that next book, learned to speak French, adopted that dog, or run that marathon. Likewise, when it comes to my relationships--from my peers, friends, family and most importantly my beloved children and wife, “If I had only known, I would have...” is a phrase I don’t ever want to have to say. This means that I am willing to stand far more vigilant in my mindfulness of what a gift they are and not put off telling them so. This also includes you my respected readers--you too are an important part of my life: Irrespective of who you are and where you are, if you are reading this message you and I are in a relationship that spans both time and space. So, I say thank you for being in my life. You matter.

The next 24 hours contains 1,440 minutes, which totals 86,400 seconds. Remembering that you shall never have them again, how shall you spend each one of those precious moments? May you live this and every day so mindfully connected to life and to who and what truly matters to you that you will never have to say, “If I had only known...” 

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Mary Moses said...

Thanks for your blog. I find it very inspiring! Now, I need to get up and get out there to make my day a success!

Kathleen Scott said...

It's true, we're all dying, just some of us faster than others and some of us know it.

Good post.

Annette Harwood said...

Inspiring, thought provoking. Focus on the things that really mattter in life and demonstrate an attitude of gratitude to every thing your one beautiful life offers.