'Get busy living or get busy dying'. -from the movie 'The Shawshank Redemption'.
I'm not particularly good at looking into the future. I tend to live in the here and now, and often excuse my memory gaps jokingly by saying: 'But sweetheart, I have slept since you told me that!' Normally I spend very little time making 5-year plans (or even 5-day plans), but there is one small scenario that I imagine from time to time... I imagine my own funeral.
Playlist for Eternity
Some would say it's more than a little morbid to have the playlist of music prepared for a day like that, but seriously, do you really want to leave those kind of decisions to people who may not have known you? They might end up plying 'The Circle of Life' from the Lion King, for goodness sake! I‘d rather have „Drunken Soldier“ by Dave Matthews or „Everglow“ by Coldplay than some cheesy „Friends are Friends Forever“ nonsense! Music is such a big part of my self-expression, so why shouldn't I already know what messages I want to be playing over the speaker when people mourn my death? Oh, this reminds me of the time I had a laughing fit at the funeral of a distant relative...oh, what a funny story, but I digress...
„Shoulda Coulda Woulda“ can wait!
I also think about the stories that people will tell about my life when they gather to pay their last respects to me. What kind of woman will they have known? How will I have influenced them? Who will have been encouraged, comforted and inspired by my words and deeds? They will not tell stories about the things I intended to do, but rather about the things I DID. They will not remember the encouraging or comforting words that I wanted to tell them, but rather the ones that I actually SAID. They will pull out the letters that I took the time to send and show the projects that I stayed up late creating. Some will remember the times when my style was royally cramped for their benefit, and how touched they were by my willingness to help them in their crises. They will thank me for not keeping my faith and beliefs to myself, but for sharing them freely so that they could find perspective and meaning in their lives.
A reverse-engineered life
I am often asked how I manage to lead such a courageous life, and this is my answer. I simply imagine how I want to be remembered and I start to create this life for myself here and now! I don't know how many days, months or years I will be granted, so I really have no time to lose. I want my funeral to be an occasion for others to celebrate a life lived bravely, a life that made this world at least a tiny bit better than it was before I got here.
How about you? Ready for a thought experiment?
- Which stories from your life would you like to tell?
- Are you already experiencing these stories?
- Who would you like to have influenced?
- What about you will have made people laugh?
- How will you have helped someone in need?
- Whose life will have been changed by your faith?
- Which 'impossible' things will you have made possible?
- Where will you have pushed boundaries and developed your abilities?
- How will your children and grandchildren remember you?
- What ideas will you have stood up for?
- Where will you have overcome great pain?
- What will you have left behind?
On the way to more courage, take the time today to think about the end of your life while you are in the middle of it... You won't be disappointed!