Adventures in Imperfection

The Cards We’re Dealt

“Think of the life you have lived until now as over and, as a dead man, see what’s left as a bonus and live it according to Nature. Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting?”

~~Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.56-57 Quoted from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

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Ready for a lesson in philosophy lite? Me either!

Before you leave, hang with me for a minute. This is not some deep, hard to read, gotta look up fancy words, or math formulas post. I wrote parts of this in my journal today, and decided that maybe it might help others, too.

I have found a philosopher even I can understand and better yet…apply! Since Christy introduced me to the book, I’ve been reading passages from the Daily Stoic since November. And folks, it’s sticking. I’m enthralled by work of Marcus Aurelius–words he’d never intended for anyone else to read.

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Confession: I thought Marcus was “just” a warrior and a Roman Emperor. When I mentioned in passing that I was reading a lot of his stuff, my friend said, “Wow. You’re getting into some deep philosophy.”

I am? 

I had no idea that the man I pictured sculpted in bronze armor and olive branches would have so many wise things to say. Wise things that are relevant to today–1836 years later (I did the math).

https://www.google.com/search?q=marcus+aurelius+meditations&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=662&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwij0b33neLQAhWHy4MKHcT2DogQ_AUICSgE#imgrc=Rv-FRxDIGhbIZM%3A
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Kelsey P – come back here! I almost lost you for a minute, didn’t I?

Here’s the thing. I wanted to share today’s message from my daily reading because it feels so important. The quote above is a fancy way to say, “If you had one week to live, what would you do with it?”

What would you do, really? Keep that question front of mind, because I’m going to ask it again.

It only took me a few minutes to jot down exactly what I would do with seven days. And wait a minute. What if I actually did these things –didn’t philosophize, didn’t talk about doing them–just did them without pomp and circumstance.

My list:

  • Listen: There’s a calm in listening without an agenda. Making eye contact with the person who’s speaking. Listening without jumping ahead to insert what I want to say.
  • Hug: I would hug my husband and my kids every chance I got. That deep-gut feeling of melting into the other person and thinking, I love this person so much I want to burst. Yeah. That kind of hug. The one that moves all the red blood cells through your lungs, fills your heart and makes a person sprout wings.
  • No texting. I’d call. My brothers and sister. My mom, my dad, Ron, Marie, Suz. Then, I’d put down the phone and hop over to see my bestie (you still here, Kels?) I’d visit them all if I could, but I wouldn’t be spending any of my last days looking at a windshield or an airplane wing.
  • I wouldn’t waste any of the 168 hours on harsh words, grudges, or what ifs. I would apologize to anyone I’d ever hurt–accidentally or intentionally. I’d tell my husband that I thought his marriage proposal was genuine, romantic, and absolutely perfect–because it was. He’s spent too many years feeling bad that it wasn’t more grandiose. I’d tell my daughter to keep being fearless and brave and I’d remind my son to believe in himself. I’d remind them to Let go, and let God as well as the ever-important Not your circus, not your monkeys.
  • Love: I would tell every person who is special to me that I love them…and why. For the times they lifted me, noticed me, and made me feel special. I’d thank God for a wonderful life. And then see if Tanna would sing “What a Wonderful World,” one more time.
  • I would ask for an early retirement.
  • I’d look at photos of Tanna and Dane and take hundreds more. And remember to print them and have them shipped to the house.
  • Read: Everything that I possibly could. And I’d write. But only after everyone was asleep. There’d be little sleeping during my last seven days.
  • Clean out the greenhouse, chop some trees, till the garden, plant tomato seeds one last time.
  • Go the grocery store, stock up on supplies the family needs–put their needs first for once.
  • Be genuine. Make my outsides match my insides. No lies, no masks, no posturing. Say what I mean.
  • I would run all of my favorite trails with my dog and anyone else who wanted to come. No talking. Just running. Just being. We could walk if you want.
  • Chop, slice, boil, broil, grill, cook. Feed. Break bread together. Dinner at home every night.
  • Forgive. Myself included.

Not very fancy, huh? But, doable, right?

I can hear my family rustling upstairs. Coffee cups, water hitting the shower doors, and the click-click of dog’s feet chasing the cat. Pink Floyd is playing in my office and candles are burning. I haven’t felt this calm and grounded in such a long time.

How long will it last? How can I make it last?

It’s easy to feel calm coming off of an extended vacation (on a beach, no less).

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You guys know me well enough to know that I when get excited about something, I make big plans, and then it fizzles out. That’s okay. I don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be perfect either. The way I see it, if we continue to keep our eyes open, we can find little lessons tucked away in corners or in the hearts of those closest to us. The trick is to remember to apply them in that moment. If we do that, then perhaps we’ll play the “right” cards instead of those we lay on the table when our eyes are shut or our hearts closed.

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Again, I ask, If you had one week to live, what would you do with it? What wouldn’t you do? There are no wrong or right answers – just different philosophies and priorities. Please share your thoughts below. For those of my many friends who aren’t bloggers, you can reply below, too. I read and appreciate every comment I receive.

If don’t answer back right away it’s because I’m listening to your words – and not jumping ahead to a reply. If we only had a week left, would we spend it in front of a computer screen?

Let each thing you would do, say or intend be like that of a dying person. 

~~Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 2.11.1 (From the Daily Stoic, page 358)

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63 thoughts on “The Cards We’re Dealt

  1. Be still my heart. The love and authenticity flowing through your words, and the light shining from your heart, is what the world needs right now. I love what you’d do with your final week. My choices would be similar, focusing on those we love. If I knew I had one week left, I’d leave recorded messages for my son and husband, with instructions for them to watch (or listen – haven’t decided yet if they’re going to the video or audio) each one as certain events or situations come up. There would be birthday videos, ones for when my husband is having a tough time being a parent without me, and ones for every stage of my son’s life yet to come (driving, falling in love, heartbreak, finishing school, first job, if he ever gets fired, marriage, becoming a dad, and more). I would spend that last week having as much fun as possible, and laughing more than I ever believed I could, with my family.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I was going to say that I’d write my guys letters, but they are both dyslexic, and reading isn’t their forte. Another idea I came across somewhere online, is to create an email address for your child, and share it with no one. Periodically send them letters, and when they turn 18, give them the address and password so they can read all the letters. (But better make sure it will be accessible after 18 years). Letters are wonderful because you don’t need to worry if they’ll be able to read the file type or play the video format, or whatever, years down the line.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. So much fun to hang with you Cari ❀️ You inspire me with your positive energy and amazing sense of humor. And seriously…you’re royalty – I have the coolest friends ❀️❀️

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  2. The cards you are dealt? For a couple of reasons, I’ve been on Twitter more than usual. Hanging out at a resort doesn’t look like such bad cards. πŸ™‚ Seven days? If I’ve been going at the right way, I don’t need no stinkin’ deadlines to make the best of my life. It’s been one day at a time for 25 years… there’s no mystery to that.

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    1. One more thing. It just struck me. This is an exercise in futility. You can’t know this until you really only do have a week left. Because. Remember what it was like when your children were born? A lot of issues and options became crystal clear. Same thing with this. You can imagine, but it still isn’t so…

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      1. Exactly – that’s why I’m working on all the things on my “list” every day. Authenticity – being present – those things shouldn’t be reserved for last days. Those are every days in my book .

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    2. You’re awesome, Ray…and so right!
      Ps: I’m trying to talk hubs into visiting your city. It’s the setting in one of my stories – I figured I needed to visit it if I was gonna sound halfway accurate πŸ™‚

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  3. I would spend all the time I could with my family. I’ll also make sure I’d be with my church family as well, gathering up all the good spiritual sending off that I could. That’s about it. I’d try not to run around too much. I’d have everyone come to me if possible and spare my energy for human connections. Great post. Love you! xo

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  4. Hi Michelle, it is a very interesting place ‘the now’. We have avoided it with…I’ve got to do this or that, or need to be here or there. But in truth, it is where our hearts truly are, in ‘the now’, as you have said above.
    A little story, if I may πŸ˜€
    Spirit has passed on to me when I shall be leaving this world, to move on to my next path in ‘life’. And at the time it shocked me because I have never been given that information for any other person…ever.
    So as you found above…suddenly I was faced with…’ok, what does have meaning in my life?’.
    It really left me in a daze for a while, but slowly I came to the realisation that ‘this life’ does have purpose, but in truth it was those connections I had with those close to me, and others, had the most meaning.
    So I let it all go, those millions of bits of life that guide us, so I could ‘see’ just where my heart did truly lay. And in doing so I began to truly look within, to find purpose in what had become a very shortened journey. Normally we never look at it, hoping that our ending is a long way off, or maybe they’ll find a cure πŸ˜€
    But there it was, and I began to ‘see’ so much more underlying all that we do, and in doing that, I then saw what drove my fears…and in that very profound understanding I realised I had been truly set free. I no longer had ‘life’ dragging me kicking and screaming against so many things. I was truly free.
    Hence my writing so that others may understand their journey, see underneath what actually drove them and their many actions, and find the beauty of that freedom that is there for us all.
    I have tried to convince myself that maybe I ‘misheard’ what spirit said, but two things keep me reminded of where I am at. The first is…it was one of the very few times spirit just gave me the information…very blunt, singly worded, and direct to the point (usually I get a picture, with much within it and many feelings to go with it, a story within it so to speak). And the second was…I will get a signal beforehand that it is time….by the death of another. And this person means a great deal to me, so it will really have an affect….or will it?
    On my journey in An-Experience-Of-Death I was shown an incredible journey in our passing from this world and it allowed me to face and change my lifetime of fear of death, simply because it is an amazing transition, and within it showed me ‘why’ we are here, and the incredible beauty that is within this world, even though we take it very much for granted.
    It gave me an appreciation of just how profound this journey is, and just how much love is showered on us…and yes, even in those times that are very hard.
    So, Michelle, I hope you don’t mind the length of my story, if anyone wishes to maybe get a glimpse of what is there, it may give a hope, and a change to what ‘the now’ really does have for us all πŸ˜€
    Thank you for sharing YOUR cards Michelle, and with sharing your heart so openly…it takes much love to do that, and is graciously received with the beauty is is given kind lady. Namaste ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! You cease to amaze and inspire me, Mark. Thank YOU for sharing your heart and giving us a peek underneath – what a great way to describe it. That letting go? That’s my mission and mantra these days. Wanna lose a quick 10 pounds? Just let things (emotions, bad feelings, grudges) go – let them go. Easier said than done, but part of the worthwhile journey. Thank you, my friend. Namaste πŸ™

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      1. Yes, it is easier said than done Michelle…but it is because of that we do appreciate just what it took to get there, and realise…yes, we ARE so worth it, and truly begin to love ourselves, removing a lifetime of negativity and low self worth ingrained from life.
        I wish I could just show everyone…but if I did, you would not find or appreciate the love that it gives, that unconditional love that we all seek πŸ˜€
        Thank you for sharing lovely lady…and I think the ‘letting go’ weighs a lot more than that. When I did finally release it, it felt like a skyscraper had lifted…I floated afterwards…and still do πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I lost a dear friend to cancer today and I can’t help but think about how hard she fought to stay alive. I have to admit that I take it for granted that I’m going to wake up each morning so I love the question that you’re asking. What if? I can say for certain that I’d stop counting how many grams of sugar I consume and I’d eat what my body craves until I’m full. I’d wear my kids like backpacks and I might even suggest a new wife for my husband. But mostly I’d do like you. I’d listen, hug and walk as much as I could and take nothing for granted. ❀

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  6. I am so sorry to hear about your friend. I hate cancer – always have, always will. Any friend of yours is a friend of mine and it makes me sad.
    I love your list – “wear my kids like a backpack” – yes x 1000. A new wife for your husband? As if he could find anyone to ever fill your shoes. You know it, and he knows it, too.
    You’re one in a million and I’m blessed to call you my friend. Thank you, Karen. Wrapping you in a virtual, big hug…one you can feel all the way to your toes ❀

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    1. They make my brain freeze, too. That’s why when the words started to flow, I knew I needed to go with it. My bestie said she didn’t have a list for me either. I told her not to worry – it’s not an assignment and I won’t be grading papers. I loved M2M response, too – I have the coolest friends and I count you among my many blessings, Joanne πŸ™‚

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  7. I wouldn’t sleep much. I *would* most definitely spend a day travelling by plane to be with my people. And in the end. I dunno. I don’t know how I’d marry my two lives on opposite sides of the pond. I’d just do my best to love the people I love, from whatever distance I was from them.

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    1. I thought of that, too – how to get to all the people I haven’t gotten to yet and who mean so much to me. You know what that says? The next time you are in the states, I want to come find you. Why wait until the 7-day countdown. Love you to the moon and back, Lizzi. I hope you’re okay – I know you’ve had a heckuva journey lately…

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  8. I think I would identify the seven most important people in my life and dedicate one of my final days to each of them. We’d talk. We’d laugh. We’d talk about our fears and desires, our hopes and our worries and at the end of each of those days I would tell the person I spent the day with what they meant to me and that I hope they never stop loving and living and dreaming.

    That … or find a beach, get a cooler full of beer and spend the whole week as drunk as I wanna be.

    It’s really an incredible question to ponder.

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      1. The question forces one to consider what is really important. My first thought was that I would want to travel to all of my favorite places and maybe to a couple of places I’d never been to that I wanted to see. But then I realized that those places are important, but they aren’t what have actually got me through my life. There are these core people who have mattered the most. And on some level, while they know of each other, they don’t know each other, so it might be awkward to bring them all together. As a result — I’d take a day with each and revel in those 24 hours.

        It’s kind of like an idea I have for what I’d like to do with my ashes. Rather than having them spread in one place, I think I’d like them spread in three different places. One place would be along the American River as it runs through Sacramento. It’s a place where I’ve found a lot of peace and quiet in the last few years. Another place would be up in the mountains — at one of my favorite lakes or along a favorite trail. And the third place would be somewhere near the ocean — maybe near Fort Bragg or somewhere along the Oregon Coast. And the scattering would be split among different people. My wife would take care of the American River for instance. My kids, the mountains. And one or two friends, who represent all of my friends, would take care of the coast.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I absolutely love how you have thought of this – the specifics and the whys. It makes me think about some of the same things.
        You have a certain calm about you, Mark. It’s why I love and appreciate your comments. Thank you for being here. Michelle

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh my gosh. A certain calm about me? I so wish this was true. I so wish it was true. I so which it was true.

        I am a massive swirling wreck these days.

        My comments are typically a reflection of what I wish could be, but what is so far from my reality.

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  9. You had me at Marcus πŸ™‚

    Much of my list matches yours, M. I’d switch off from everything else but those I love. It’s all I would do if I had one week left to live. I’d create something that I could leave behind as legacy for my children. A patchwork quilt, a hand-woven pullover, a scrapbook – anything at all to remind them every day that I love them.
    Then on the final day, I’d have my last glass of wine, snuggle close to Mister, and die in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely adore you, P. I truly do. I love the notion of leaving a legacy – physical and spiritual. You should add photos to your list – I am digging your photography these days. Absolutely gorgeous. Just like you. xo

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  10. I just want you to know that I adore you. Like, for real. You are an incredible soul and I’m so fortunate to know you.
    I think with only a week left, my agenda would look much like yours. I’d try to not focus on the looming time limit, but would want to fill the minutes with memories of fun and laughter for my husband and kids to remember me by.
    Also? I didn’t know about this philosopher dude, but Imma look into his stuff cuz I dig it big time. Someone else whose words I soak up, Thich Nhat Hanh. I have a few of his books. So helpful, insightful, and wise.

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    1. It almost makes me panicky…the thought of only having a week left. But, my dad shared something with me just last night. He had a heart attack earlier this summer, but shared how much at peace he was during the ambulance ride. When the EMT commented on how calm he was, my dad said he felt calm because he knew he had a life that he had always dreamed up – kids and a wife who loved him. It made my heart swell.

      I just want you to know that I adore you, too. I’ve been so absent the last several months, but I can always count on your smiling face and beautiful heart to be waiting with open arms. Who has friends like that? I do, that’s who. Thank you, Beth!
      As for Thick Nhat Hanh…I totally need to add him to my list. Thank you!! xoxoxo

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  11. I’d eat so much pizza. And I’d make pizza references to mask the fact that I’m crying at work. It’s been a long time since I’ve cried, actually, or that a post has moved me to this extent. (It’s a good test – I’d begun to wonder about myself.)

    I want to write a post on this. Someday. I can’t now. I can, however, have this in my mind and soul as I go through the days that lead to the one on which I’ll write. And I suspect that carrying that with me will lead me to more conscious kindness, even, and awareness.

    Your list was beautiful and I cried at first because I hated the thought of a world without you. Then I noticed how much of your activity was about giving and sharing and appreciating. And I wondered, what if every day could be like that?

    I’ll go now because I might have drafted half of a post already here. The universe’s timing … I visited here today because I came to get your link for the six-words post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And this is why we are “forever friends.” To know that my words moved you–WOW! But to be fair, it wasn’t my words, but your heart and application. And dude – you get it! You totally get it!
      As I was making my list, the light bulb went off in my head…”sister, why aren’t you doing these things right now?” And so, I’ve been working my “list” ever since, and adding to it. Has it been a perfect week? Heck no!
      I was grumpy as hell last night because the dog and cat have been keeping the whole house up (next blog post!). As I found myself harping at people who were not to blame for my insomnia, I was able to stop and simply think, “I’m too tired to be nice. Maybe I should just go to bed and make the house more pleasant by doing so.” It worked!
      I am stoked to know this inspired post for you. Today, I’m working on time management (i.e eliminating time sucks). I don’t get to read as many blogs as I’d like to, so I relish the moments I do. I’ll be over to visit very soon. But, first…I need to take care of this pizza craving you’ve suddenly created.
      Thanks for the visit (and the e-mail) Eli – you da bomb πŸ™‚

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  12. Gave this some serious thought. I think I’d want to get in the car and revisit some old haunts. I like your plan to spend as much time as possible outdoors and of course with loved ones. I spend enough time online that I’d go on to say goodbyes 😝 I would not go to any stores. I wouldn’t buy anything. I don’t think I’d want to read anything new. Cool book you got yourself there though. Might need to pick that up myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hmm… Ok, had to actually look this song up. I am surprised I didn’t know about it. Pink Floyd ROCKS! I was not familiar with this but it is now one of my favs! Love the lyrics and it goes perfectly with your post. The entire album sounds amazing.
    I had seen a post by Anna about The Daily Stoic and I was already wondering about it. Here you have mentioned it again! I guess the Universe is telling me something, huh? Not ready to answer a deep question like what I would do if I only had 7 days… but I like your answers! πŸ˜‰

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    1. My friend told me about Pink Floyd – an album they did in 2014. I didn’t know about it either!!
      So awesome to see you here, C/K. I think of you often and continue to be amazed at all of the balls you are juggling. Have a wonderful holiday if I don’t talk to you before then! xoxo

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      1. I listened to the tracks from the album 🎢. They are all instrumental except “Louder than Words” but one of the tracks called “Talkin Hawkin” has Stephen Hawkin talking in the background about the Universe. It’s kind of cool, but it is difficult to understand the words. My life is crazy… stays that way. I only have one final in the morning 😐. I was able to skip my US Govt final because my grade was so high… LOL! 😎Great teacher. I have her again next semester for TX Govt. Tomorrow I have History but shouldn’t be too hard. I leave for KY on Friday πŸš™ to help my kids move to.. wait for it!! NASHVILLE! Yep! Son-in-law got a job there and is working full time. He can’t help much so I am going to Paducah to help daughter. My life never stops. I should be back in TX by the next Friday … just in time for Christmas πŸŽ…with family. I need 10 more things on my plate! ha ha ha! NOT! Merry Christmas my friend! ❀ 😘

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      2. Oh my – I KNEW you’d be running with your hair on fire – in the most graceful ways. Congrats on your school – you da bomb!
        I haven’t listened to “Talkin Hawkin,” so I’m going to cue that up this morning.
        Safe travels on the next big adventures. I hope your kiddos love Nashville – it’s a bustling city for sure. Be safe, enjoy Christmas and please, please…don’t forget to sleep πŸ˜‰

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      3. Sleep?? What is sleep… ? I heard of it once upon a time. Sometimes I feel like that old saying “I will sleep when I’m dead!” I won’t wait that long, but it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon! LOL! What did you think of the “Talkin Hawhin” song?? πŸ™‚

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      4. That Talkin’ Hawkin song is eerie good. I Googled and found the “lyrics”

        Speech has allowed the communication of ideas
        Enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible
        Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking
        Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future
        With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded

        All we need to do is make sure we keep talking

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      5. Very cool! I figured they were on the ‘net somewhere, I just hadn’t looked for them. No time! LOL! But I will listen to it again 🎢. I do like the words and you’re right, the song is eerie good. Great way to describe it.
        School is done 🏁 Aced my History final this morning… of course.. πŸ˜‰ I am blessed with awesome teachers though. I have them both again next semester. Honors History and TX Govt πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ. I gave my Govt teacher homemade fudge this morning. She was thrilled and said it was her absolute favorite… AFTER she teased me about brown nosing! ha ha! πŸ‘€ I already have my A in there so I knew she was kidding. Love her! Looking forward to next year. I think I am going to take a class at UT Tyler πŸŽ“ also so I can get started with my bachelor’s. That will be 9 hours so I am not auditioning for the Spring musical 🎭 . It was exhausting last year and I simply do not have time. Talk soon….. take care my dear! Merriest of Christmases to you!! πŸ˜πŸŽ…πŸ˜˜πŸŽ„<3

        Liked by 1 person

    1. lol!! I am sneaky πŸ™‚ You know how much I love that photo ❀️
      I need to make a little correction on the post — we started reading Stoic right before Thanksgiving, right? I think I said November 1 – musta bumped my head once or twice while writing.
      Thanks for being here, Love ❀️

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