We’re all just hanging around to hear what our death sentence is. Morbid, right? Before you quickly move away to something more upbeat or happy, hang in there for a minute.
We all get on this ride as a bouncing baby, and move into the carefree years of childhood, the angst-filled era of being a teenager and finally we’re thrust against our will into the world of adulthood. But it’s not as bad as it seemed, and there are days we even seem to enjoy it.
Marriage. A career. Buying that first house. Then it’s upgrading to a mini-van, soccer games and school programs. Life is hectic; it’s frenetic. But always moving forward it is. As the kids get older, so do we. We’re mortified at the first gray hairs, until those gray hairs start turning loose. Visits to our doctor become more commonplace than our days at the gym… and maybe that’s why.
The train we’re on just keeps moving, some days it seems slowly, but more often than not it seems to be picking up speed. We blaze past bar mitzvahs and births, graduations and weddings. We hardly slow down to enjoy the stops, let alone the scenery. Bones are a little more creaky this year than last, and the spring in our step seems, well, a little sprung.
Then we sense something is wrong – just a little off. A trip to the doctor and few tests later we hear the news we thought would never come. “It’s Cancer.” “You have heart disease.” “It’s the beginning stages of Parkinson’s.” It slowly, painfully sinks into our soul and our psyche. This is how it’s probably going to end.
Of course, your diagnosis may not be terminal, but your diagnosis reminds you of this important fact – you are terminal. This ride has an end point on this side of forever, and although you may not be at the last station, you may be able to see it from where you are.
I know, like I said, maybe a downer. But wait. We cannot forget, we must not forget. Life, and the living of it are ours to seize. Every moment, every breath. To be certain there are things that are way beyond our control. Our mortality is one of those. But our humanity is under our influence, and how we spend the moments doled out to us are ours to manage, to spend and to embrace.
Daily choices about our health, our happiness and our passions – we can abdicate our responsibility to champion through each of those with courage and intent by letting life happen to us. Many people do. I would rather choose to embrace my family, my friends and my future in the moments I will live. I refuse to watch the days check off on my calendar with anything less than an exclamation point on each one.
I will chart a course for my marriage, my kids & my career that captures those moments rather than endures them. I will open my heart each day that I open my eyes, and in doing so I will allow my faith in my place in the cosmos to fire my soul and my steps. This is my choice. This is my destiny. This is my legacy.
This is the kind of employer I will be. It is the type of leader I must be. It is the decision I make today and each day. When that day comes and I hear my death sentence, it will be hard. But the joy of knowing that I embraced my life sentence in the days before will matter more. My life will have mattered.
My life will have made a difference. Will yours?