You know those moments. The moments when you “get it”. When you realize that this isn’t going to go on forever, that it is, after all, the ultimate endgame. We all have them. For most of us, they are fleeting. We experience them the way a hummingbird travels from flower to flower, searching for nectar. If we’re lucky, however, they teach us; to pay attention, to be present, to ask questions, listen carefully and love like there’s no tomorrow.
In celebration of the publication of her new book, Life is a Verb, 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful and Live Intentionally, author Patti Digh asks the question, “What would you be doing if you had only 37 days to live?” Readers are encouraged to send in their stories and Patti is publishing one each day until the official release of her book on September 2nd.
“What will you miss when you die?”
My writers gathered around the table this evening, pen in hand, ready for the night’s topic. They stared at me in disbelief.
“Are you nuts?” one of them said.
“That’s a horrible topic,” another piped in.
I just smiled.
Natalie Goldberg, in her newest book on writing memoir, talks about going where we are most afraid to go, writing what we most fear. Apparently, I had brought my little group to the proverbial edge.
“I’ll miss myself when I die,” one of them wrote.
“The things I do and say
Into the sounds of silence.
I’ll miss myself when I die
The successes of my life
And all of my accomplished promises.
But most of all I’ll miss all the other things I meant to do.”
Things I will Miss When I Die," another read aloud.
The color of the evening sky
Sitting on my favorite bench, nestled in the oak grove.
The sound of silence
The smile I get from strangers as we pass each other on the street
My constant yearning to understand and be understood
The pain and heartache from lost love
The joy of watching my children being born
Dogs barking, horns honking, fights, lightening and thunder
Doing the right thing
The battle within when I desperately want to do bad things
Running my fingers through my daughter’s curly hair
The smell of bacon in the early weekend morning
Catching a bus to work
Stillness within chaos.”
What would we miss? Normal, everyday things. The sound of the rain as it hits the roof. The taste of ice cold watermelon on a hot summer day. The joyful squeal of children’s voices as they play ball in the yard. The stuff life is made of. The things many of us take for granted, or worse yet, don't notice at all.
“Pay attention to now,” one of them wrote. Try not to have too many things you "meant to do."
What would you miss?