Living Life to the Fullest . . . Now!

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”

– James Dean


James Dean instructs us to live as if you’ll die today.  Wonderful sentiment, but how many of us really do live life to the fullest NOW?  A lot of us say, I’ll live life to the fullest when I (fill in the blank) – when I win lotto, when I get that new job, when I find my soul mate . . .

I’ve been reading a memoire by a friend of mine (check out her inspirational blog,  Lois McCullough)  This memoire, and her blog to some extent, chronicle the journey of a woman who nurses her dying husband, and then has to deal with the grief but continute to stay present and be there for her young sons.  It’s a brave and honest account of one woman’s experience dealing with the death of a loved one.

Lois’s memoire But You Cope So Well has been a great reminder to me to stay present and to live as if I might die today, and to cherish those I love because they might die today as well.  It’s not easy staying in that place, so many little things get in the way.  But in my opinion if we don’t do it now, it easily could be too late.

While contemplating all of this – death, living life to the fullest, appreciating my own life and the lives of those I love – I did some research and found this remarkable woman, Candy Chang.  She mirrors my sentiments when she says: “Thinking about death clarifies your life.”

Please take the time to watch this short TED Talk.  Her talk, Before I Die I Want To is moving and inspirational.

 

 

Please let me know how you fill in your own blank:  Before I Die, I Want To . . . .  And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

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If today were your last day . . .

“Live not one’s life as though one had a thousand years, but live each day as the last.”

– Marcus Aurelius


Live every day as if it were your last – so easy to say, but honestly, how plausible is it?

My son Lukas came upon this quote by Nietzsche and thought it would fit nicely in my blog. (He’s got my back!)

“What if, some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sight and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence…’
If this thought were to gain possession of you it would change you as you are, or perhaps crush you. The question in each and everything – ‘Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?’ would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight.”

Upon pondering that quote, Lukas mused:  “Yeah, so it refers to living your life, judging an action by which you might have to repeat it again and again . . . this idea of eternal re-occurrence can guide your life path – help you out of banality and suffering.” (That’s my boy!)

Nietzsche’s quote reminded both of us of Steve Jobs’ incredible 2005 Stanford Commencement Address:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because 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. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

These ideas seem even more relevant to me today, than they normally would.  Last night, my husband Jeff accepted a year-long position with The British Council doing teacher training in Borneo.  My sons and I will be staying in New Zealand.  It’s the fulfillment of a dream that’s been on hold for a while for Jeff, and a big part of me is really happy for him. But if I’m honest, my feelings are much more convoluted that just happy for him.  So no, neither of us found out that today would be our last day, however, Jeff is leaving for a year in only three short weeks.  And well, anything can happen . . . Borneo feels pretty far away.

So this topic feels even bigger than it normally would. And for the next three weeks anyway, I’m going to seriously try to remember what Jobs advised, at least with Jeff .  I plan to ask myself:  If today were the last day of my life with Jeff, would I want to do (or say) what I am about to do (or say) today?”

The video I’m attaching is a bit cheesy (sorry Lukas) but it made me cry and it seemed to fit, so here it is:

 

 

Please write and let me know what you would do if today were your last day.  As always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.