Before One Kicks the Bucket

I asked someone this week, “If you had a year left to live, would you do anything different from what you are doing right now?”

He laughed. “Of course, I would!”

He said he would drop essentially everything he was doing, probably even most of his hobbies, and create a list of the 25 things he wanted to do. He’d then systematically work his way through that list.

I then asked, “What if you had five years left to live?”

He laughed again. “Sure! Even with just five years, if I knew that’s all I had, I would do something similar.”

What if one, or five, or ten years is all we do have? If I lived as long as my mother did, to the age of 67, I  have 19 years to go.

That puts it into perspective. At almost 48, that means I’m 71% of the way there.

My mother would be horrified that I was thinking these things. She would say, “That’s so morbid!”

Or, maybe she wouldn’t.  Maybe she would say, “Make your list now. Have no regrets.”

I facilitated two workshops recently about work-life balance. Which, by the way, I told the group is not possible. Trying to win a zero-sum game, where doing one thing means you are not doing another, is simply not doable. We can’t win at work-life balance. But work-life fit is possible—there is a way to think about piecing disparate parts of our lives together and seeing them in a harmonious whole.

We may not know how to manage this fit perfectly, we may often teeter too far to one side at different moments in our lives, but as long as we don’t let that teeter-totter hit bottom, as long as we live life with clear purpose and intention, we always win. If we ask ourselves honestly what the real corner pieces of our life are, and what the most important edges are, and put those in place first, the frame of our life holds the whole.

While visiting a dear friend at her beach condo in North Carolina last week, she shared a devastating experience she and her mother had the previous Saturday. She was sitting in her beach chair, ear budded and listening her latest audiobook in the sun, when she heard her mother scream. Her mother had been heading toward the beach stairs to the boardwalk back to the condo. At first, she thought her mother found a loggerhead turtle and it was a scream of delight. But her mother had actually found a 71-year-old man hanging from the cross bar underneath the stairs. He had tried to commit suicide. But he was still breathing. He had been found just in time.

I wonder about this man. How does he feel today, a week or two later? Is he grateful that he was found? Or is he in despair that he’s still here?

I have been found just in time. I’m starting my list of 25 things.

The workshop attendees from last week considered a list of life questions that I gave them. One was, “If you knew you had one year left to live, what would you want to change or clean up?”

When they saw it, one person said, “That is a depressing question!”

 “Sure,” I said, “but it’s balanced out by the others! Questions like: ‘What are you ready to let go of – habits, attitudes, obligations, beliefs, outdated goals – that is not serving you?’ and ‘What would make life ridiculously fun?’”

I think it would be ridiculously fun to write a book. I have had this on my list of life goals for a while—since I was in my twenties, in fact. So, if nothing else, that’s what I am going to do. Because life is freaking brutiful, as Glennon Doyle Melton says. It’s just too brutal and too beautiful for me to do anything else.

P.S. This project means I am going to go dark, as they say in the blog world—take a break from posting for a while. I may or may not be back. We'll see where it leads! So stay tuned!