Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm Dying

The other day as I was listening to the radio, a song came on with a line, “live as you were dying.” I may not agree totally with the choices of the song writer, but I love the idea. A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of helping a gentleman find a home. While we were out looking, we began to discuss life. He shared with me that he had cancer that would eventually take his life. I wish each of you could have been there with me. His disclosure wasn’t one of seeking sympathy or compassion, but one of fact. He then immediately went on to talk about the benefits of his condition. He smilingly stated that he lives each day so that it counts, without regrets. I loved the answer.

Our tendency is to live each day out of habit. It is what we as humans typically do. We get in a rut, get comfortable, and trudge through doing the same thing until the end. We fail to stop and ponder our lives until one of the moments in life opens our eyes to “forced pondering”. These events could include the birth of a baby, the death of a family member or close friend, a class reunion, a visit to the doctor, and other situations. These events kick us out of our daily routine and open our eyes to life. We start to ask questions; deep questions. Recently I drove without the radio on. As I was thinking, I asked myself, “Does life have a purpose? If so, what is it?” It was a great experience. I didn’t want to arrive at my destination so I could contemplate that question longer. Many more questions came from that experience which lead to others and more thinking time.

So back to living each day with purpose. If we chose to live each day as if it were our last, we could choose one of two paths. 1) We could live under the creed that, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” or 2) There is a tally being kept and true joy only comes from living a life which is in harmony with eternal principles. One leads to a better world and the other to selfish elevation and destruction. We have all heard the comment that no priest has ever heard someone on their deathbed state that they wish they would have spent more time at the office. We each could insert many things into that statement as well.

So if you were dying, what would you change today? How would you live now? May I be the doctor and give you your prognosis? Today you are one day closer to dying than you were yesterday. Accidents happen and you may not live much longer. Right now is the only time you have. We each have a condition that will eventually end in death. That condition is being human. It is 100% mortal. Well, now that each of us have been given the prognosis, it is time for us to make the adjustments we need to make.

Here are a couple of ideas to help make the changes. 1) Take time once a week to think. Ask questions. Evaluate the previous week. Make plans for the next. Compare your actions to how you want to be. Write down the changes and plans as they come to you. 2) Share your plans and actions with those you love. Have them help you be accountable to the change. 3) Accept that it will take time and that things will slip to the old. Don’t give up. Regroup and move forward.

When that day comes that we are laying on our deathbed, and the priest comes to visit us, let’s look him in the eye and say, “What a great ride!”

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