“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?”
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.
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 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).
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.
- 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).
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.
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)