We all need a sample of love in our lives in order to thrive.
That’s a fact.
Some get this love from their careers, others from their family or pets, and many from a particular passion.
We’re born with this basic instinct to love.
I mean, unless you’re some very whacked-out sociopath (sorry, was that not politically correct?) and even then, I’m thinking you gotta love something or someone — even if it’s your pet rock.
But the real question is NOT how we get love, because there is literally love in everything around us if we pay close enough attention, but more importantly, how do we GIVE it?
A SAMple of love is really just a metaphor for managing life through our hearts.
I recently spoke with a philosopher I’d been introduced to (don’t even ask me how I ran into this person) who, after about 20 minutes of conversation, asked me something that had me thinking for days.
He definitely flipped me out. Not gonna lie.
“How would you like to live your life?” he asked. “Would you like to live it as each day comes, with no regard for tomorrow, or as if someone one day will be reading your obituary?
I could feel my stomach churning. Like, actual nausea was building up slowly.
“My obituary?” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not really old. I don’t understand. I don’t want to think of my death and leaving those I truly love and cherish. Why would I want to think like that?”
Oh goodness, panic was setting in at this point.
I could feel my heart racing and, as the anxiety piled up, all I could think of was how I could escape this conversation. Was it possible to send a text to one of my kids, without being obvious, and have them “emergency text” me to come home so I could ditch this guy?
Lord knows I’ve gone that route a thousand times before. I mean, I did this as a kid with every sleepover. I’d call my parents and say, “Hi, oh no, you have to come and get me? What do you mean? I’m having so much fun.” They’d be on the other line saying, “Karin, what are you talking about?” And I’d continue on and on with this charade until eventually, they’d catch on that I was wimping out, and come get me.
But back to the philosopher …
“No,” he said. “I’m not talking about leaving today as in dying. I’m talking about living your life today in the way you want to be remembered for tomorrow.”
I’m not even sure I heard his last sentence because I was silently figuring out the date of my next physical so the hypochondria wouldn’t set in.
“I’m talking about earning the commentary that will be said about you once you leave this earth.”
Honestly, it was a little much to imagine and I felt panicked even at the thought.
But then, I started thinking.
If everything I do gets counted and my legacy has to be summarized one day, how do I live knowing that I have to fulfill this sort of short story/narrative that will somehow say who I am and what contribution I added to the world?
Silently, I started running through all the marginally crappy things I’ve been guilty of over the years.
And BTW, my list isn’t really that bad. Just sayin’ (not that you wondered).
What he was saying was that each person should live their life in such a way that their eulogy will substantiate how they really were.
In total transparency, his message did resonate, even if it was super morose.
Let’s face it, none of us is perfect. Lord knows I’m guilty of many errors and a few mistakes I’d like to forget.
But it did put things into perspective thinking this way … you know, making decisions with how it would play out in words at the end of my life.
I remember at my father’s funeral, not a single bad word was said about him. I know, eulogies are usually pretty positive, I get that. But, literally, not a bad word. Not a single lie, or bad business deal, or malicious or deceitful behavior.
And honestly, it was genuine.
But what this philosopher was trying to explain, is that if we all lived our lives today with regard to what we wanted to be remembered for tomorrow, perhaps we’d make different decisions knowing there was some accountability at the end of the rainbow.
His words hit a chord in me.
And for what it’s worth, I’m a little changed.
In the end, I think we all want to be remembered for what we did that was good and kind and loving and ethical. Not about who we screwed over or lied to or let down or hurt or cheated on …
I’ve been to so many funerals recently and what’s struck me most about all the eulogies is how at the end of life, the emphasis appears to be how well someone has lived — not their lifestyle, but rather if they truly got the most out of the days they were given. How deeply they loved, how they spent their time in a meaningful way, and how they contributed to making the world a better place by their presence.
After a rather lengthy chat with this very wise man, I decided to ask him one more question.
“What,” I wondered, “happens when you’re not a great person?”
Though very short, his answer was really to the point — and he said it with a smile. “Tomorrow is always a new day.”
I walked to my car feeling like Moses coming down the mountain holding the Ten Commandments minus the grey hair and beard.
OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but seriously …
Just be nice.