First, Ron Culberson’s Do It Well. Make If Fun. was the capstone of my decades-long quest to gain a sense of self, of alignment & equilibrium. Then, Mel Robbins 5-Second Rule kicked off my current quest, to DO what calls to be done. Followed by Jim Stovall & Ray Hull’s The Art of Learning, which put structure around that intention, provided the mechanics needed to make things so. And now, it’s Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s What Will People Say About You When You Are Gone? that’s addressing directly the myriad of questions that sprang from reading the others!
This chain of reading is too effective, too targeted to be mere coincidence. Reminds me of what my very UNreligiousy (but deeply spiritual) John said about the two of us – “I didn’t plan this & you didn’t plan this BUT Someone planned it!” In a similar vein, SOMEONE put together this reading list!
Yes, it is a matter of attention that our finances are on particularly low ebb. And we appreciate that friends & pleasant acquaintances fret over our prospects. To them, we seem unreasonable in our belief that we are on a path of purpose laid out by Powers beyond our trifling understanding.
Writing in a Facebook posting, doing my weebly best to explain, I noted – “hearing a friend tsk tsk that better some income in a field outside my interest than no money at all, am realizing two things: 1) at 65, with a stellar but ancient resume & no updated computer skills (and a gammy leg that rules out wawa or walmart), i’m overqualified, under-credentialed & aged out for even temp positions; 2) i agree with red stevens in “the ultimate gift” – losing everything can be a great starting place. we value the work we do, even if others don’t. preventive care is rarely given the value of corrective or maintenance. the work we’re doing makes a difference. valuing it means honoring the path that’s been set before us.”
Wrote that this past Saturday. Then last night, my jaw dropped reading Rabbi Cohen sum up my verbose point in one sentence: Australian palliative nurse Bonnie Ware notes that the most common regret at the end of one’s life is wishing that “I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Amen & hallelujah!
A few pages further, three more gems spoke to my heart & laid out my reason for living:
- Marc Angel, in his book Losing the Rat Race, Winning at Life, writes: “We human beings are placed on earth to attain transcendent treasures – wisdom, love, spiritual insight, moral courage. If we can keep our lives focused on these goals and if we can direct our lives according to these ideals – then we ‘win’ at life. But if we come to ascribe greater value to mundane attainments – wealth, power, fame – then we may find ourselves having accumulated things that are ultimately of little worth. Winning at life means keeping focused on what is truly important and not getting sidetracked by external glitz. Winning is not a one-time event, but an ongoing way of life.
- Abraham Lincoln said, “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true; I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light I have.”
- How can you harness the gift of life for maximal impact and fulfillment? You can begin by leading your life as a reflection of your innermost values. The only way to accomplish this goal is not to wait for external stimuli to jolt you into action but to cultivate an ongoing mechanism to keep your ideal self front and center.
Again – amen & hallelujah!
Every position I’ve held – – from teaching at a small parochial school to working for US HealthCare ~ Prudential HealthCare ~ BISYS Financial Services to teaching at-risk high school students with guns in their car glove compartments & shivs concealed in the shoes – – was preparation for our NOW. That doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. They don’t get it. We do. We know that John didn’t plan this & I didn’t plan this BUT Someone planned it. No more to say.
The Almighty invests all of us with the spirit & strength each day to harness this inner power. The question is whether we cherish the gift of free choice to express our deepest values or live on cruise control and make decisions out of convenience and not conviction.
I’m reminded of the story in Ah, but Your Land Is Beautiful by South African writer, Alan Paton. He tells of a man who died and came before God. “Where are your wounds?’ asks God. “I have none,” said the man. “Why,” responds God, “Was there nothing worth fighting for?” – – – DEEV – to me, giving a fair shake to all ages, in all stages is worth the good fight!
At every moment of our lives, whether young or old, we’re called to be our own very best. We’re charged with living life with passion and purpose. The world is watching. If we choose courageously and optimize our opportunities, we’ll know that we gave of our gifts, touched the world, and lived our lives in a way that we’ll be remembered in blessed memory.
In quoting his friend, Senator Joseph Lieberman – “When I decide a course of action, it is not for fear of failure. If I lose because I stood for my beliefs, I will always be at peace. I never want to be remembered for playing life safe. I want to be remembered for doing what was right.”
The longest distance in life is between our heads and our hearts. Spiritual success requires developing the training to transform our intentions into reality. We all experience flashes of inspiration when we awake from our spiritual slumber. In those moments, we embrace a seriousness of purpose & pledge to truly devote ourselves to our deepest values. Yet all to often, our motivation is short-lived. Soon enough, we’re back to old habits.
There is no shortage of people who aspire to growth & greatness. Life is filled with unfulfilled dreams & unrealized potential. As Henry David Thoreau reflected, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” You’re reading this book because… you want to ALIGN (my CAPS) your body and soul and lead life with urgency and a higher purpose. You have a song within you to sing.
All the good intentions in the world won’t translate into action if we don’t pause to reflect on our life direction and purpose. If we don’t, it could turn out that all of our investments of time, money, love, and talents were for naught.