Categories
Random Thoughts Self Musings

The Deathbed Test

You need to ask yourself: “When I’m looking back on my life, from my deathbed, which one of these options will I regret not doing the most?” Use that answer to helpfully guide you. In her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware shares that the No. 1 regret in life is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Because here’s how I think about it:

One day I will die. One day you will die. One day our grandparents will die and our parents will die and our kids will die and their kids will die and their kids will die and their kids will die. The guy cutting you off in traffic? He’ll die. The lady calling you at dinner selling you a credit card? She’ll die. The cashier at the grocery store? Dead. Every teacher you’ve ever had, everyone who’s ever woken up beside you, every actor in every movie, every politician in every country… will all be dead. In the blink of an eye.

The average lifespan is 30,000 days.

That time is always, always ticking.

And you will never be as young as you are right now.

So what does that mean?

Well, you have two choices.

You can either be horribly depressed by this thought.

You can feel as though nothing really matters since we are all ashes to ashes and dust to dust in the end. The game is already over! What’s the point? Of this? Of anything? Who cares? Why try? Or, if you do care or do try, maybe it’s because you feel like this weird life on Earth thing is some kind of ‘waiting room’ or ‘test’ towards a higher ideal or better place where we live for infinity after this life is done.

Or:

You can be incredibly liberated by this thought.

We are all going to die! So? This really matters. This! Right here. It really matters. Today really matters. The voicemail you leave for your mom? It really matters. The note you put in your kids lunch? It really matters. Putting you phone away to really connect with your family over dinner? It really matters. The smile you share with a neighbor? It really matters. The art you’re making? The risk you’re taking? The cake you’re baking?

It really matters.

It really matters.

It really matters.

All of it.

It does.

Because there’s not much time.

So in this limited time we have here, in the limited minds we have here, all swimming somewhere inside this vast expanding universe – which, reminder!, ly have no idea what it even is and how it got here and why we got here – our only job, duty, and goal is to live every single day like it is so precious and beautiful a unique and rare and fleeting and finite …

… because it is.

And because this matters.

It matters.

The choice of being horribly depressed or incredibly liberated is up to you.

Categories
Random Thoughts Self Musings

Strengths & Weaknesses

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Even the greatest among us have shortcomings, and those limited in their capacities have strengths. There’s no point in comparing your shortcomings with the virtues of others. Those others might believe they could never match you in certain ways.

The Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi’s “Autumn Floods” says: The one-footed yak wished it were a millipede because a millipede can walk. The millipede wished it were a snake because a snake can slither very fast. The snake wished it were the wind because the wind can move even faster. The wind wished it were as swift as eyesight. Eyesight, however, wished it were the mind, since the mind can move in less than an instant.

The mind is the swiftest of all things.

The point is that, when comparing yourself with others, since there’s always someone better than you at something, don’t be overly inflated, and since even the greatest have weaknesses, don’t be overly self-critical. As it is said, “A foot has its shortness; an inch has its length.”

A fable illustrates this.

Once, a little mouse wanted dearly to be strong and brave. Looking up at the sky one day, the mouse was struck by its vastness and thought that the sky must be the strongest thing that there was. It called out, “Sky, you must not be afraid of anything. I’m so very small. Could you help me be strong and brave?” The sky replied, “I am afraid of some things. I’m afraid of dark clouds. When they cover me up, I can’t see anything.” So the little mouse concluded that dark clouds were even stronger than the sky. It found a dark cloud and said to it, “Cloud, you can cover the sky and block out the sun. You must be the strongest thing in the world. You must not be afraid of anything. I’m so very small. Could you help me be strong and brave?” The dark cloud said, “I am afraid of strong winds. I work hard to cover the sky, but when the wind comes, I’m blown away.” So the little mouse went to the wind with the same question. The wind answered, “I am afraid of walls. I can’t go through them, so walls are stronger than me.”So then, of course, the little mouse went to see a wall and asked, “Wall, you can stop the wind. Are you the strongest thing in the world?” The wall’s answer stunned him: “Not at all. What I’m most afraid of are mice! They can make holes in me, and enough of those can make me collapse.”The little mouse rolled over in astonishment. “I’ve looked everywhere, searching the world for the strongest thing, but it turns out that actually it is me!”

It is a mistake to look at the strengths of others and conclude that we’re worthless. Often we don’t realize how powerful we are.