“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” ~Unknown
I realized I’m going to die soon.
Not, you know, imminently. But soon. Even sixty is soon. Seventy, eighty, ninety, still soon. And I’ll be lucky if I get that old.
I’m going to die.
What’s gotten into me? Maybe it’s the Robin Williams story. That would make sense. A loss that’s shocking really resets your perspective.
Life is fleeting, it’s brief. Even if it’s what we’d consider a long life, it’s short.
This was a thought of mine in the shower today.
I think it jolted me into feeling a little less uptight. A little less scared.
The real scary thing is the big, black unknown. That vast mystery of whatever comes next. Whatever happens after life is snuffed out.
And it will be snuffed out. In the grand scheme (even medium scheme) of history, pretty relatively quickly.
That’s morbid, you may think. But I felt a little better today when I had this thought.
After a good long stretch of isolating myself and digging further into a rut, I felt better about things I’ve been going through. Like cyclical insecure thoughts I’d been having. Apprehension, anger, regret, confusion. Fear. Anxiety.
I feel good today. Because in the face of life ending too soon, and not knowing what comes next, I realize that I know what can come now. I can put together what I want. I can face things boldly.
Compared to the uncertainty of whatever is in the afterlife, whatever my blind date thinks of me tomorrow is pretty manageable by comparison. While I’m here, I better embrace life a little.
I imagine that future me will look back on present me very much the way present me looks back on younger me.
I shake my head sometimes at younger me for her insecurities and hesitation and fear. I want to tell her it’s all going to go by so fast—enjoy it now.
Enjoy it now.
Right now is the time when future me may look back and wonder what on earth I was so worried about. I’m only thirty-one. Thirty-one! Forty-one year-old me would love to be thirty-one!
And eighty-one-year-old me would really wish she was thirty-one.
My god. I’m so lucky to be thirty-one.
What am I doing wasting it on insecurity? Why do I freeze and gravitate toward inaction sometimes?
Every moment that I’m unsure, worried, fretting, concerned about how I’m doing, or wondering if I’ve made the right choices, done the best I can, of if I should worry about what someone thinks, is a waste of precious time. It’s like fourteen-year-old me thinking she was fat. She wasn’t.
Are you hesitant about a fork in the road? Feeling anxious about your options (or lack thereof)? Feel old? Regret something? I can’t tell you what will fix it, but I can share three things that have always given me motivation to really move forward and live.
Walk through a graveyard.
It seems creepy. It isn’t. A cemetery has a fantastic way of reminding you to live your life. Fear of whatever choices you have ahead, or any paralysis of action you may be experiencing, will melt in the presence of beautifully landscaped permanent resting places.
Take a walk around your nearest or prettiest cemetery this weekend and try to quiet your mind. For me, this exercise always results in a great dose of perspective on life. Namely, that it ends. So any choice of action, regardless of how it turns out, is a gift.
Imagine young you.
Remember the school dance you were too scared to go to? Or the crossroads between starting your career or traveling after graduation? How about the girl you never asked out, or the boy you never told off for hurting you?
Young you was trepidatious about a few things—occasions you wouldn’t hesitate to rise to now. So, too, would older you appreciate you finding the courage to drop the worries that are holding you both back today.
Imagine the worst that can happen.
Got a scary thing you want to do? Think of the worst that could happen, and weigh it against how much you’d regret not trying. Or if you’re not sure what to do at all, weigh the consequences of trying something versus doing nothing.
Do something. Embrace the fact that you’re living. Failure, success—both are part of a full life. Living with complacency isn’t living at all.
My favorite question to ask people is what they’d be most upset about if the Grim Reaper showed up and said they’ve got five minutes.
Get to it.
Happy woman jumping image via Shutterstock