“Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’d I had one week left to live would I still be doing what I’m doing now?
I love the work I do but I would be doing it on my terms. The biggest complaint I have ever had in life is the need to work for others and completing subsequent tasks on “their” terms.
I would move to a place for which there is much spiritual attraction, the Himalayas. It has taken me many years to decide to “live life.” A turning point for me was a decision which haunts me to this day. Several years ago I had been asked to travel to Tibet with a small group. I was threatened with the loss of my job, the very job which connected me with the individuals who had suggested I make this trip. The guilt I felt associated with leaving my wife and children while returning to unemployment helped seal this decision. I guess you could say it was my fear of losing these things which helped to seal the decision.
Today I find myself in a very different position. My income is no more than what it was but I have found it easier to identify my priorities. Occasionally as I read through the paper my eyes secretly glance at the obituaries. There I see the names, often accompanied by photographs of this individuals who share my age. Beneath their name is often a brief description of how they died. When I read a word such as “suddenly” a sense of fear and urgency washes over me. The word “suddenly” often denotes a heart attack. This form of death is often confirmed when I can recall not hearing of a traumatic event which could have taken this individuals life.
I find myself asking if this person achieved the goals they set for themselves or did they simply follow the masses and live the life we are “supposed to live.” A life of ease and assumed contentment simply following the masses.
I used to think this was the life I wanted. It was safe and did provide a measure of contentment, but I found myself longing for more. Not more in the sense of additional material possessions but more in the meaning of life. Much like Emerson, my father taught me life was to be lived and enjoyed. This concept was and remains so important to me today. My daily search is to identify enjoyment in a simple life through the identification of the simple things in life. In Buddhism we refer to this as being “mindful.” Today that enjoyment finds me almost daily. As I write this piece I find myself enjoying the shade of a large maple tree. A slight breeze occasionally passes through the outstretched branches of the tree rustling the leaves and causing the wind chime to provide musical accompaniment for those leaves. As I stop writing I pause and close my eyes. For a brief moment in time i am magically transported to what feels like a simpler time. Thoughts of gratitude sweep across the horizon of my mind and a smile crosses my face. Health and financial stability have found my family. I live in an area relatively free from crime where I am encouraged to follow my dreams, my passion.
I wake in the morning and as I dress for my morning run, I am thankful for the opportunity to be alive and well.