We all think we have plenty of time left. Every one of us is laboring under this illusion, every day of our lives. Once in a while we get a reminder that this is not the case, but this warning shot is quickly glossed over. A near miss on the freeway, a relative with a life threatening illness, whatever it is, for a brief moment we think “we’ll do better”, but it was quick to pass. The question is: Why is that?
Personally, I think this is a defense mechanism to avoid thinking about our own mortality. While this is not a comfortable topic to dwell on, this is without a doubt something that you should consider frequently. I will give you the reason why and a couple of examples…
It will cause you to take action
You need to use your own death as a motivator. If you are aware of the fact that you are not going to live forever, you will quit leading a life like you have plenty of time left on this planet. If you have read some of my other blogs, you know about my car crash in 2015. The reason I have finally pursued public speaking is BECAUSE of this crash. Getting hit head-on by a wrong way drunk driver has a way of making you look at whatever time you have after that incident a little differently. Do I wake up every day leaping out of bed and thanking the Lord? Am I operating in a manner of complete gratitude 100% of the time? No, I am not. I wish I would operate in this manner more frequently, but I can assure you this, it is WAY more often that before that crash. And that crash was six years ago…
When I was sitting in my Dad’s truck after he picked me up the day of the crash, I was contemplating my life, as you may imagine one would. A near death experience tends to make you introspective, trust me on this. I asked myself a valid question that day, and the answer was quick to reveal itself.
The Question: Since I have been granted more time on the Earth, what should I do with it?
The Answer: Help as many other people as possible.
The answer was easy, the “how” within the answer has been a little tougher. But I am getting that figured out, as I have a growing speaking/consulting business as the format with which to achieve this goal. Do I expect the be the next Tony Robbins? Not really, but I do think there are people out there that I can provide some assistance to. I have been doing it in my coaching role at ASU, and as a mentor for some of the team players during and after their time in college. Public Speaking is an extension of my coaching role, I think it is as simple as that.
This is my story, and obviously everyone is different, so I will give you some other examples. If you have a bad relationship in your family dynamic, you should try to fix this. If you remember that you and/or this person have limited time left, this will help you have that uncomfortable conversation, apologize, or listen to an apology. Do you really want to wait until someone is on their deathbed for an apology to be brought to light? What makes you think you’ll have that opportunity in the first place? What if they are out of town, out of state, in a coma, you miss the call and don’t check your voicemail until tomorrow? There are a myriad of things that can go wrong in this situation, so waiting to resolve an issue is a bad idea. If you take every step possible and things cannot be resolved, you can live the rest of your life knowing that you tried to make things right. Not every situation can be fixed, but if you tried, you can sleep at night.
As the famous quote by Henry David Thoreau goes:
“Most men live lives of quiet desperation and go
to their graves with their song still inside them.”
Man, what a sad thought that is, but it is so on point. Do you think your kid will hit another game-winning homerun in Little League, or there will be another Daddy/Daughter dance next year? Remember, we have just spent two years under pandemic conditions where things like this were taken off the table. As a coach, I have had kids graduate that only played half of their eligible years on the team. You don’t have as much time as you think you do…
Not everything that I am referring to above is going to change the world, most of us just don’t have that kind of reach. But that doesn’t matter. What does is the fact that you can make a difference in YOUR world, and that should be enough. If you have been a hard ass parent all your life, thinking you did the kids a favor by being tough on them, do you want to die without them knowing WHY you did what you did? That you do actually love them, even though you did not have the best way of showing it? If you were on the receiving end of this, do you want to hear those words so desperately as an adult that you would feel the weight of the world was lifted off your shoulders? What are you waiting for? Yes, neither of these are going to be a fun conversation, but do you want to live the rest of your life wondering?
Listen to me carefully: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE…start living accordingly.
None of know when or how or any of the other details of our death or the death of those around us. Maybe it is much better this way, but the one flaw in that theory is that we think we have lots of time left to do the things we want to do or should do. This is the bad part of being blissfully ignorant of our own demise. If you knew that on January 3rd, 2024 you were going to get hit by a bus on the way to work, and that you were locked into that fate, how would you live your life BETWEEN now and then? Would you be a better person, give to charity, volunteer, adopt a child, travel the world? Would you sit on your couch and play video games until that fateful day looming in the future? I certainly hope not, but many do just that, at least in the proverbial sense. So many of us live like there is more time to be had, and there isn’t. Death is stalking us all… It’s not a morbid thought, it is reality. Death does not care if you acknowledge it or not, it just does its thing. How YOU choose to view it, and use this information, is up to you.
Since this is in the vicinity of New Year’s Eve, I am hoping to catch a few people at the right time to contemplate these thoughts and add in some weight to the things you are considering for your resolutions this year. If you are busting out last year’s list to try again, you are the one I am talking about. Take action, make shit happen this time around. You never know, it might be your last chance at it…