This week was a big one for me. My mom turned 60 and my best friend got diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. Aging and health: Two big moments that beg the question:
Am I living a life that matters?
The Aging Call
If 60 was around the corner (which, by the way, it is, for all of us), what do you hope to accomplish by then?
When I look at what my mother has built, I see a model of how I wish for my life to look when I turn 60. She raised five children with selfless and determined love, fueled by her unwavering commitment to build a life with purpose and integrity. She now mentors and enjoys twelve grandchildren, and as she watches them grow I see a happiness in her that can only come from having put in the sweat and tears of raising her own.
Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy – Psalm 126:5
She wasn’t fooled by the fame of followers or the status of promotions. She was guided by love and pulled by an inner calling to raise a family and make her mark for future generations. She never put her needs first. And now, she continues to be a student of life-not asking what others can do for her but what she can do for them. I believe that she finds endless fulfillment through her acts of giving and kindness.
As she watches her own children grow (and sometimes be fooled by fame, fortune and followers), her time has come to travel, explore, study and be our guide. She has kept young and healthy and vibrant so that her next 60 years can be full of adventure.
When I am 60 I hope to be able to look back and rest steadily on a foundation that I spent a lifetime building. I’m turning 38 this year… time is running short!
How do you wish for your life to have played out when you are looking back while standing at the beginning of your 60th chapter? I urge you to really think about it because I bet, at least if you’re anything like me, you will make radically different choices today knowing that those choices will be what shapes your path tomorrow.
The Illness Call
If you got a call tomorrow announcing that you had stage 3 breast cancer, what would you do? My best friend with four young children got that call.
I pause emotionally. I think to myself, if it were me, what would I value more or less in my life and how would I choose to behave differently? I cringe at how I take my blessings and my health for granted! I reflect on the model of my virtuous mother. If I got that call tomorrow, I would aspire to be more like her.
- I would start listening more.
- I would be kinder, more generous.
- I would smile often.
- I would hug my kids more.
- I would tell them how proud I am of them and not miss one day!
- I would shout my love out daily!
- I would be present for every moment.
- I would love unconditionally.
- I would stop judging and criticizing.
- I would stop being selfish.
- I would be grateful.
- I would pray
But why wait for a wake up call that begs us to be our most extraordinary selves? What if we could be and do all of these things right now? Don’t wait until you are 60, and don’t wait for the phone call. Be kind. Be selfless. Find a purpose that fuels you everyday.
I’ve gotta go kiss my kids now.
I recently read David Brook’s piece, The Moral Bucket List, and shared it amongst friends. I attach a quote from the piece below and encourage you to read it often. Make a list of your virtues – the ones that are listed on your resume and the ones that will be read as your eulogy. Know that there is a difference and perhaps get inspired to build a life filled with more meaning.
“Commencement speakers are always telling young people to follow their passions. Be true to yourself. This is a vision of life that begins with self and ends with self. But people on the road to inner light do not find their vocations by asking, what do I want from life? They ask, what is life asking of me? How can I match my intrinsic talent with one of the world’s deep needs?” – David Brooks