“I’ve lived a life that’s full,
I’ve traveled each and every highway,
But more, much more than this:
I did it my way.”
– Frank Sinatra
I am dying. And so are you.
Life works in mysterious ways and none of us knows when the time will come to kick the bucket. I hope to have several more decades to enthrall in this daring adventure that is life, but the truth is — this life is finite. It may end tomorrow.
Death itself isn’t the scary part however; what dies within us while we’re still living is.
Are we simply existing, taking up the air and waiting for something to happen — reacting rather than acting — or are we actually living: courageously, passionately, fully?
A few nights ago, over a glass of some cheap Malbec, I pondered: what would I want my obituary to say?
It’s an interesting exercise.
Most of us try to avoid contemplating death. Ironically, by doing so, we appreciate life less. We sweat the small stuff; complain more and live less.
It is easy to get caught up in the daily routines of life: work, school, shopping, TV, you name it. I do it all the time. But when we are about to take our last breath, and look back at these mere few decades, what will we feel: Regret? Excitement? Satisfaction? Peacefulness?
Writing my own obituary, the way I’d want it to be someday, was insightful and instructive.
It gave me a perspective on what is most important, what I deem important, and also what I want to be important to me in the long-run. Daily stressors and drama weren’t it; relationships, meaningful work, living life passionately, seeing beauty, and leaving my mark were.
Like Frank Sinatra in his unforgettable song, My Way, I hope that I will have done it my way. I also hope that I will have lived a large, courageous, and diverse life. I hope that I will have faced it all and stood tall throughout.
Expectedly, perhaps — this exercise can be a trap too. We tend to glorify certain experiences or accomplishments over others, which is why, in writing your own obituary, it is critical that it is your obituary; not your parents’, your partner, or anyone else’s in this world.
Authenticity is key.
Otherwise, we won’t be true to ourselves, get motivated, or gain another big benefit of this exercise: a sense of urgency.
As much as we hope to live 100 years, the truth is: we don’t know. We will never know. Therefore, instead of wondering when the day might come — or not thinking about it all — let’s figure out what is important to us, what we want to be said about us at the very end, and then find the way to make sure it is so. And let’s do it today. Now. Not tomorrow or next week. Right now.
Take the time to do this exercise. If you don’t know what you’d like your obituary to say, there’s no shame in it. Think about it, honestly. Meditate. Talk to someone. But figure it out.
And then, make it happen. Do your very best that your actual obituary, someday, says exactly what you’d want it to say. No more and no less.
This exercise is empowering. Re-read your “obituary” daily. It will help you keep your focus on the important stuff, and give you a pick-me-up when you need it.
As someone once said, “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy shit…what a ride!’”
I agree. Here’s to our ride!