David Bowie, Rock Star
“As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?”
Death is considered by many to be the ultimate end of all of us. While a lot of people live what is affectionately known as a “full lifetime”, many never get that chance.
Those who die early from fast living, you know, that self destructive type of life that can kill you in an instant, and maybe take someone else down at the same time, aren’t giving this any thought at all.
Those who have early life illness, especially those who have known nothing else, don’t usually have the span of time or experience to think this deeply.
It is only when life is slowing down from the main rat race we have been running in for those early years that we pause and evalutate what we have accomplished, and what we would like to accomplish before we go. It is summed up in one word. Legacy. What will people think and say when we are mentioned? Did we just make a splash, or did we do something meaningful.
I remember hearing once of the Darwin Award which was supposed to go to the least evolved human of that year. It was awarded to a guy who was attempting a robbery of a soft drink machine. He rocked the machine back and forth until it fell on him and became the instrument of his untimely demise.
In spite of the seriousness of a human death, the fact of his stupidity in making it happen is pretty hilarious. Do you want to remembered as “that stupid guy”, or would you want others to respect the fact that your life counted for something and was well lived?
Being famous has absolutely nothing to do with having a meaningful life. Many times fame is the thing that makes a life even less meaningful.
On the most basic level, our relationship with our family is the most important contribution you can make in this world. My wife and I have one child, a daughter, and I will be content if I can leave her with success and life relationships as least as good as my own.
Sure I have ambitions beyond this, but if I fail at home, I will not accomplish anything else worth a legacy. This being said, also remember I have said before that family is not about blood, it is about relationship. Your family is formed around you. It could be stepchildren, your closest friends or even a close knit Facebook group you are a member of.
Sure, go and conquer the world. But make sure before you go that you have done the most important things first. Make sure you have actually LIVED!
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
Bill Withers, Singer/Songwriter
“I feel that it is healthier to look out at the world through a window than through a mirror. Otherwise, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you.”
Many people have a limited view of the world.
It is pretty easy to tell when a person is focused on themselves rather than others and are living in their old accomplishments instead looking for new experiences.
As we age, we realize there is more time behind us than in front of us. It makes us evaluate everything we have done, analyzing our legacy that will presented to the future.
After we are gone, we can’t do much to correct any mistakes, so healthy introspection is OK. This being said, do you plan to live in the past all the time, or is there something else you want to accomplish?
What would you really like to do? Is there something like learning to play a musical instrument, another language, or hey, how about starting a Podcast talking about something you are passionate about?
I have always thought that you never truly grow old until you have nothing to look forward to in your life, and are only looking back. Some people truly have nothing else to accomplish, but I suspect that most voluntarily grow old by choosing not to dream anymore, and just spend all their time looking back, reliving the glory days.
I had glory days, when I was in high school, playing basketball, state and national competitions in various events, and just a great time. At that part of my life and into my 20s, measuring that against the total time of my life, my glory days were huge! Looking back now, it is a very small portion the time I have lived. It diminishes in importance the older I get. Compared to things I did later, being married to the the love of my life, being father to a really cool daughter, etc, it just seems like so much kid stuff. BTW, I will be 52 next month.
As long as you keep looking ahead and planning to do things, you will not grow old. When you stop growing, that is the sign that you are preparing to die, whether you recognize the condition or not. Build anticipation in yourself for that next great thing you want to do. You won’t regret it, and you may just feel a little younger!
A final quote:
“An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our desires being often but precursors of the things which we are capable of performing.”
Don’t forget to check out the other podcast I do with my wife, Dee, called The WV Podcast. You can find this and everything we do at wvpodcast.com. Subscribe on the site for email notifications of new blog posts and podcast episodes.