Imagine what life would be like if we each lived exactly 100 years — to the day. From the moment of birth, barring accidents, you knew the exact minute of your death. One some levels it could be reassuring; however, as the calendar years passed, it might get a little freaky. There would be no doubt about how much time was left on your clock.
With that as the backdrop, pretend you are now 99 years and 364 days old, it’s your last day on the planet. You have all the knowledge you can possibly acquire. Whatever you have attempted is considered complete. Your trials, tribulations, and triumphs have left their marks. Lessons have been learned. Knowledge has been acquired. Whatever else you had planned will remain unaccomplished. There is nothing left to do but look back and analyze the story of your life.
Your time has come
Using that scenario, suppose you could “send a message” back to the real-life YOU of today, the person reading these words this very minute. You would say, “In your remaining years, always remember and stay focused on what rally matters,” and you would list those top priorities so present-day you wouldn’t reach the end of life filled with regrets for being out of alignment.
In an exercise to establish priorities, I have conducted an activity like this with audiences of all shapes and stripes, estimating the total number of people who have done this with me to be several thousand, maybe more. Some have shared their answers; it is not a surprise that almost all are priorities such as: take care of my family, have faith, be healthy, treat others well, smile often, love deeply, or improve my community. I am reassured that I can count on the fingers of one hand when someone shared a dream like “bright red sports car” or “a hot babe.”
I find this wonderfully reassuring because I interpret these hopeful results as meaning that we, as a people, do seem to have a good direction. I think what happens is we get so mired in the day-to-day muck, we forget the big picture. We have our nose so close to the grindstone and our back so bent with our labors, that instead of focusing on what matters, all we get are sore lats and a flattened proboscis.
How often do we not even notice something wonderful that’s right in front of us? As example, for Valentine’s Day, my wonderful wife arose first and hung a bright red, shiny banner proclaiming, “I love you forever” at the entrance to our living room. Shortly thereafter, oblivious, I staggered out of bed and wandered into the living room, not noticing it, even as it almost brushed my head. I did observe something that needed to be put in the kitchen so I dutifully picked it up and left the room; still unobservant. I poured a cup of coffee and returned to the living room. I am embarrassed that I had still not noticed the banner. Under it was my lovely new white gloss tv unit, I noticed that.
My wife, upstairs, calls out, “Happy Valentines Day Honey,” assuming of course, that with three trips to the living room, I must have seen her handiwork.
I replied, “You too honey.”
She says, “What did you think?”
“About what?” I call back.
She says, “You didn’t even see it?”
How many things of beauty do we miss each day, because we forget to look at what really matters? I am keeping my eyes more open today.
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