What should you do with your life?
By Michael Kline
This has been a week about life. It was about the life of a nephew, which ended shockingly, at his own hand. Such details do not make it into the obituaries, perhaps because it isn’t relevant or perhaps because we, as a society don’t talk about it enough. Hours after learning this, I learned of my sister’s engagement to be married, as we struggled for ways to support my brother in his loss of a son. The conflicting emotions of grief, empathy and joy were too strong to hold inside. Before leaving town to be with family, I stopped by the hospital to visit a friend who is, herself, learning about life by facing death. It seems that while dying of cancer (yes, the C word following the S word in the same story about life). My friend is dying of cancer. We are supposed to say she is fighting, she is a survivor, she is strong. We encourage resistance to anything we do not welcome. Many people are stronger than cancer. No one is stronger than death and in the end, it is the eventual outcome for all of us. Let us be okay with that. My dying friend and I believe that we do not exactly know what happens, and that death might be the next great adventure awaiting us. I certainly do not know with any certainty and that is okay. When I arrived in Ohio, only a few hours after leaving my home in New Hampshire, I got a call about our 16 year old lab, Zach, suffering from an apparent stroke. It does not look good. Good is an interesting term. What would look good for a lab who has outlived his life expectancy? Who spent 16 years being loved, fed, played with and cared for? What would good look like for a creature who spent his entire life loving, swimming, hiking, camping, sleeping, eating, chasing tennis balls and assuring humans that they are unconditionally loved? My week has been about how we spend our life; the importance of who we are and what we do. It is about time, being and being there.
My nephew’s death was about life; his, mine, yours. My sister’s engagement is about life; how we celebrate it and connect it with others. My friend’s dying is about life; how we spend it, what is important and how we share it. Zach’s stage of life is about life; loving, living (and tennis balls).
Sitting with my friend, having exchanged many words in recent months about life, death, adventures, learning, growing and positivity, I asked her: What do you know now, that you did not know a year ago? She admitted she knew it then, but knows it better now. First, people do not appreciate time; time to just be; no thinking about anything, not working on anything, not living in the past or the future, but just being. Second, we do not appreciate being there with other people enough. Just to be there, without the need to have anything specific to offer, no need to be smart or funny, just be there. So, as we contemplate what we should do about our work, careers, retirement, house, kids, parents, friends, cars, hobbies, pets, cell phones, or the stress inducer of the day, relax. None of it is as important as we think. All we really need, we have. All we really need to be, we are. Just be, and be there.
Michael Kline is a Certified RIM Facilitator and Certified Success Trainer for personal and group transformation. You can reach him through his website www.intus.life, or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.