Tag Archives: mental-health

“While I live” vs. “Before I die”

Every now and then my world-view takes a sharp and unexpected turn.

It happened yesterday afternoon, as I listened to a respected younger friend talk about his ambitious life goals, a to-do list that he is committed to knocking off before he…well, before he himself knocks off.

“I know I’m going to die,” he said (earnestly and without a hint of irony), “and there are some big things I want to get done before that happens.”

I understood his urgency. I too have spent a lot of time–decades, in fact–obsessing over what I need to accomplish before I leave the planet.

But as I listened to my friend heap expectation after expectation upon his formidable shoulders, I suddenly realized the flaw in my own thinking.

By concentrating on the finish line–a date in the future I certainly can’t control–I consistently overlook the only thing that is truly knowable: this moment right now.

I woke up this morning to a single clear thought: from now on, I am going to shorten my depth of field.

I will aim to think less about what I must do before I die, and more about what I will do while I live.

So while I still live, I will strive to remember to smile at strangers.

I will say “thank you” sincerely and often.

I will let little children push the button for my floor in the elevator.

I will pay attention to the first buds on trees and the last words spoken between family and friends.

But that’s just for starters. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself…

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