What I *BELIEVE*

120814-InTheEnd

There are a couple of movies that entice us to do those things we have put off, or did not even try, for whatever reason.

There is Last Holiday with Queen Latifah, where her character lives a pretty mundane life until she is diagnosed with a terminal illness. She is told she only has so many months to live. She quits her job, cashes in all her life’s savings and lives life totally opposite of how she has lived up to that point. She decided to really LIVE.

There is also The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman – two terminally men in a hospital cancer ward who have nothing in common. One is a filthy rich entrepreneur, the other a middle class mechanic. Giving courage to one another, and with Nicholson’s money, they leave the hospital and proceed to do everything they have ever wanted to do. They decided to really LIVE.

There is also a song written by Tim McGraw, Live like you were dying. In the song, he talks about someone (actually Tim’s father) being given a terminal diagnosis. The lyrics ask what did you do when you got the news. The response was not what one expected. The words were, I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing, I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fumanchu…” He decided to really LIVE.

Depending where you are in your life, these things make you stop and think, especially those of us that are baby boomers. When we start to see our parents failing in health or passing; when we see friends and acquaintances leaving this earth or confined to bed, in an assisted living facility or nursing home, we begin to think about our own mortality.

Baby boomers never thought of getting old. We thought we were different. Many did not save for the future. They lived life with reckless abandon, not planning for the future – so statisticians tell us – because we didn’t want to live like our parents who were products of the depression era. We wanted to LIVE.

We were going to change the world – and we have in many ways – but we never thought we were going to get old. We subconsciously believed that we were going to find that fountain of youth that Ponce DeLeon was searching for.

With technology we did find it, in a way. Today we live longer. We work longer. We can have a blocked artery, go in the hospital and have a stent put in and go back to work the next week. We have pharmaceuticals that allow us to continue with our everyday existence with many of the illnesses that would normally be life debilitating.

All this said, as we lose loved ones, we begin to contemplate our lives. Since we are the sum total of the choices that we make, we ask ourselves, did we choose wisely? There is also the “I wish I had, or I should have, or I could have” – yes, those “should-a, would-a, could-a” thoughts sometimes leave us feeling depressed or less than, but sometimes are the catalyst we need to change direction.

Like the movie characters in Last Holiday, The Bucket List and the song Live like you are dying, we can make or re-do that What I want to do before I go list, before it is too late.

I am not talking about reckless abandon, but about truly searching our souls and making a list of what we would like to do before we get sick or pass on.

I have heard it said that no one says on their death bed that they wished they had worked more. They usually say they wish they had spent more time with their loved ones or accomplished a dream they once had. Whatever it is for you, while there is still time, DO IT NOW, like Nike says.

We do not know what is going to happen to us. If we wait, it could be too late. None of us is promised the next minute.

Last year, I was hit head-on by a pickup truck; had I not stopped before being hit, I was told that I would be dead. I never expected to have an accident. My mother passed away in March, one of my sisters passed away in June, and many people I know have left this earth plane. Life can be over in an instant.

We are nearly at the end of another year; my last blog was centered around accomplishing whatever you could from your 2014 resolutions list before the end of of 2014. It was also to encourage you/me to write down our goals – psychologists say we are much more likely to accomplish what we write down, even with only one month left.

Having done an interview with an individual last week who, like myself, traveled a lot in his youth, lived life as an adventure and is now living the opposite of most people our age, it brought to mind the movies I mentioned and the song by Tim McGraw.

Thus, this blog goes one step further – while you still can, think about making that list of what you would like to do before it is too late. You may not be able to accomplish all of those things now, but there is surely something you can do on that list.

If you could only pick ONE thing, it should be the thing that burns deep within you that gets you excited – something you were either afraid to do, thought you did not have the skills or money to do, or someone said you could not do.

Last year, I read a book called Younger Next Year. It was written by a doctor of internal medicine and an athlete. It said there are three things you must do if you want to live optimally well into your eighties and beyond: 1) have passion – you must have something that gets you up each day – that excites you from within; 2) Exercise – it is more important that what you eat because it can counter-balance some of your food choices; and last, but certainly NOT least, 3) An intimate relationship – a spouse, a significant other or a sacred circle of friends that you can bare your soul to – someone you can trust with your deepest secrets or desires. These three things go along with doing NOW what you may have put off in your life.

I can still hear my mother’s voice saying what many of your mothers also said, Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, or if we said, I can’t, she would say, Can’t never could do nothing!

I am not putting off making my list of things I have long since forgotten or put on a shelf for later. TODAY. I am not even waiting for 2015. I a going to do it NOW.

What I BELIEVE is that as long as we are breathing, we still have an opportunity to do what is important to us.

My post-it note this week comes from Sushan Sharma:

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.

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