hmmm…I sat down to start writing because one, I needed to get my writing in for toady, but also because I was inspired by a few blog posts from Alexander Supervamp. She has a playful writing style that I enjoy. I was inspired enough to put my broom down, crack open my MacAir, and start pounding the keys.
But the funny thing about writing some times is when want to sit down and write, nothing seems to want to come out. In my case it’s usually because everything wants to come out all at once, and consequently ends up getting jammed like the M6 Motorway on a Friday night. I have to tell myself to relax and focus on one thought at a time and let the words that follow flow of the own accord. Ahhh, that feels better now.
Last week I went down to London to attend the leaving party of one of my former big bosses, Andrew McDonald.
Andrew is the CEO of IPSA (Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority). I worked at IPSA when it was in start up mode. I initial came on board to design and deliver the training for all the new staff and managers and directors joining IPSA. After I finished training the team, I stayed on as an interim Ops manager.
So far, so ordinary. Only it wasn’t an ordinary leaving party. You see earlier this year, Andrew told the team that he has terminal cancer and was going to retire at the end of March as CEO of IPSA. He wants to do some traveling, swim in wild lakes, and spend time with his family and friends.[pullquote align=”right”]What would happen if you were told you only had 6 months to a year to live?[/pullquote]
The party was a happy and sad party. And while Andrew was delivery his farewell speech, I kept thinking this is his FINAL farewell party. We all intuitively know that we are going to die someday, but it feels strange to be in the presence of someone who knows they only have a short time to live. I can only imagine how intense it must be to finally I have to face one’s own mortality.
We tend not to spend time thinking about our mortality. Logically we know we are going to die someday, but that someday is so far in the future, or so we pretend, that it’s hardly worth thinking about now. And the things we want to do in life, the big dreamy things, well, we can put those things off for another time. No need to rush. We have all the time in the world. Or so we tell ourselves.
But what would happen if you were told you only had 6 months to a year to live? What would you do differently with your life? What would you stop doing? What would you start doing?
I arrived in London early, so as is my usual fair, I found the nearest bookstore to browse the stacks and kill time. They say when you open up your mind to the universe and allow yourself to see the signs and omens all around you, the ones that inform your life will appear and help guide you. So it is that I stumbled up a book called Enjoy Every Sandwich, which is a nice metaphor that reminds us that we should live each day as if it was going to be our last.
DR Lee Lipsenthal was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was told he only had about a year to live. Coming face to face with his own mortality he concluded:
[blockquote]“Some cures require more than pills, shots, and high-tech equipment. Some cures require a radical intervention of the soul: a change in our mind-set and our way of being. These cures require us to stop racing through our busy lives, working, providing, and consuming. Some cures require that we stop and enjoy every sandwich.”[/blockquote]
[blockquote]“On this path I learned that if my life was full each day, if I enjoyed the people I was with, if I consciously took time to love my family, and if I did work that fed my soul, that day would be a good day to die.”[/blockquote]
It seems to me that it always takes some jarring life event that either happens to us or to someone close to us to energise us to think about our own mortality. The closer and more intense the encounter, the more moved we to make REAL changes in our lives.
The thing is, and what I was thinking about on my way down to London, is that we are all terminal cases. And we know this, yet it still takes something catastrophic to move us to action NOW.
I know it is a cliche, but the clock is ticking, tomorrow might as well be today. Embrace your humanity, accept uncertainty, and do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Love intensely and consciously the people closest to you, and begin to live a life of gratitude and grace.
So what would you do if you knew for certain that you only had a year to live? What stops you from doing it now? And more importantly, what are you going to do about it NOW? Not tomorrow, or the next day, or next week, what are you going to do now, in this present moment?
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