Live Like You Are Dying

Stellar advice. “Live Like You Are Dying.” Life-saving advice.

Last November my Mom died after a year-long battle with cancer and/or the interactions of multiple medications. Yesterday a close friend of mine died after a week in hospice, following a year-long battle with cancer and its treatment. My friend Linda was a zesty, glamorous lady, who managed to have perfect hair even after she lost hers to chemo. My mother was similarly zesty and glamorous.

Over the past few years I have lost a big chunk of my “get up and go.” People around me generally think of me as an upbeat person who is constantly working for positive change in the world, and that is true. However, for the past few years, I’ve been operating on just one or two cylinders. Also, paradoxically, though I am an “upbeat” person, I’ve always been prone to negativity (not sure how that works but it is so), though only the people closest to me know how truly negative I can be.

When a band was playing music she liked, Linda boldly danced by herself (sometimes even if there were lots of men around who would have loved to dance with her). Her nails were always done. She never went out looking like a shlub, and her last words in hospice were phone messages to her friends to “bring me some decent clothes.” I’m sure that if there were any attractive men in the hospice facility, she found them and made an impression on them.

She was full of love, and always wanted her house to be filled with people. All too often it was not, particularly toward the end. She could be very abrasive and demanding, but life had dealt her harshness. And underneath it all she was full of love. And she was unbelievably bright and creative.

I missed out by not spending as much time with her as I could have. Still, we had a real connection, and I was able to give her some of what she needed. And she exerted a strong beneficial influence on me.

Over the past few weeks I have felt myself getting back on track, recovering my old get up and go. I am actually not that much of a self-starter, and am dependent on a steady influx of beneficial influences. I read constantly; I talk to 20 or 50 people in the course of a day; I’m constantly on social media picking up good news. And I will be doing that til I die, which could be right after I finish typing this sentence but hopefully won’t be for a long time yet, because I have plans to help steer civilization toward a steady state of peace, enlightenment, and creative play.

Hey, as a person, I may be negative, and sometimes petty, and sometimes withhold from people the very thing that they need, and sometimes hog too much of the conversation, and sometimes blah blah blah mindlessly, and am self-centered and UNBELIEVABLY, MIND-BOGGLINGLY LAZY and lots of other undesirable stuff. But I’m the only ME I’ve got to work with, and despite my many faults I believe I still have much to contribute to making a better world. I’m the only ME I’ve got, brown thumb and lack of mechanical aptitude and middle-aged doldrums and all — I’ll take me, and work with me. It beats the alternative. And, like anyone else, I can improve.

The video linked at the end of this article (and that I took the title of this post from) made a profound impression on me. It’s just over 30 minutes long, and worth every minute to sit through (which is not speaking lightly, coming from one who prefers reading transcripts to watching videos because she can read faster than a video can speak). “Live Like You Are Dying.” It’s about tiny houses, and addressed at people who dream of living in a tiny house. But really, it’s about life. And about ANY dream. If you have a dream, don’t make excuses. Don’t be one of the 99 percent who sit around talking about their dreams but never achieve them. Be one of the 1 percent who DO. John Kernohan, co-founder of the United Tiny House Association, says it better than I ever could. Watch his talk!

John Kerhohan video: Live Like You Are Dying

And, also in the realm of beneficial influences, here is one of my recent finds: this incredibly rich article by Rick Hanson and Forrest Hanson, on how to wire your brain for resilience.