“Learn how to die. Then you’ll learn how to live.”
My wife gave me a book called “Tuesdays with Morrie.” It’s the wonderful and sad true story of Morrie Schwartz, a sociology professor who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (“ALS”), also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” It’s a brutal, and terminal, illness of the neurological system.
When Morrie was diagnosed with ALS, he had a choice about how to live out his remaining days. He could withdraw from the world, preciously protecting his dwindling time (an option chosen by many with a terminal illness). Or, he could reach out, reconnect with the special people in his life, share himself and his experiences, and through his eminent death, teach us all about the meaning of life. Morrie chose the later.
One of Morrie’s most powerful lessons was, “once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” Every day, Morrie would ask an imaginary bird on his shoulder, “Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?” If Morrie could answer “yes” to those questions, then not only was he ready for his death, but more importantly, he was truly embracing life.
So, as 2019 winds down and 2020 offers a world of possibility and new beginnings, allow me to pose a few questions to you (and to myself):
“Are you doing what you need to do? Are you doing what you WANT to do?” For me, those questions are asking whether I am doing those things in my life that bring me fulfillment and happiness. The things that give my life meaning. Professionally, it asks the question of whether I find fulfillment in my job and career. Personally, it asks whether I am spending my time and energy on those things that are truly important to me (my family, writing, getting outside and experiencing nature, writing, speaking,etc.).
So, are doing what you need to do? Are you doing what you WANT to do? We have a limited amount of time in this life, which makes that time very precious. Spend it wisely. Spend it on those things that truly make you happy and fulfilled.
“Are you being the person you want to be?” Every day, every hour, and every minute, we are offered a choice about our attitude and the way we interact with (and treat) other people. We are also offered a choice about how we treat ourselves. Being kind, patient, and generous, rarely costs us very much, but it can make a lifetime of difference to the recipient. Don’t believe me? I have a friend who received a hug from a grade-school teacher at a moment she was feeling particularly vulnerable. She remembers that hug to this day and the impact it had on her. You have the ability to make that kind of difference to someone every day of your life. You’ll also find, the more kindness and compassion you give to others, the more you receive.
So, are you being the person you want to be? If not, 2020 offers you the opportunity to DECIDE and be the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Finally, I will pose a question of my own; “Do the important people in your life know how you feel about them?” If someone is special to you, tell them. Every day. EVERY DAY. Make 2020, this new year, this new decade – about connection.
My father and I had a somewhat distant relationship. The last time I saw him (in the hospital after heart surgery), I didn’t tell him I loved him. I thought about it, but it didn’t seem like the right time. He died of complications from surgery the next day. The fact I didn’t tell my father that I loved him when I left his room is something I regret to this day. Because of that, I try to close every conversation with my wife, my sons, my family, with “I love you.” If something happens to me (or, God forbid, to them), I want that to be the last thing I said to them.
So in 2020, starting a new year and a new decade, ask yourself “am I doing what I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be? Do the special people in my life know how I feel about them?” Accept the fact that our time on this earth is limited. Learn how to die. By doing so, you can truly learn how to live.
This post was written by Colorand ; author of
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