Prepare to Die – this is a phrase you might hear in an action movie or an old western. So, what could you do? Run, fight, or submit.
I’ve got really bad news for you. You’re going to die. While true for all of us, when the doctor tells us those words and there is some immediacy associated with them, what do you do? Curl up in a corner, huddled under a blanket and wait for the grim reaper? Or grab a friend and start crossing off those things from your bucket list?
Guess what? You’re going to die. I don’t know when, you don’t know when, but you are. What are you doing about it? Run, fight, or submit.
I know people who have been preparing to die practically since birth. I remember in my thirties, working with a woman a few years younger than me, she was probably in her late twenties. We were talking about snowboarding and she said “oh, I”m too old to snowboard”. Huh? There’s an age limit? I was just learning to snowboard at the time, was I breaking some rule? The good news is, her whole attitude has changed and she is now, twenty years later, an avid scuba diver. And I haven’t tried THAT yet!
My point is; are your preparing to die or are you crossing things off your bucket list?
I was on the phone with my significant other last night, I was talking about the Insanity workout I’d done earlier in the day. He said “you’re not twenty two anymore, don’t overdo, don’t hurt yourself”. Oh, but he loves my strength, stamina and agility. I smiled, knowingly, and just let that comment slide. I feel twenty two. I feel better than I did at twenty two. As a matter of fact, on Facebook yesterday, Shawn T (of Insanity) talked about visiting Charlotte University and working with a bunch of young people, hoping he’d inspired them to adopt healthy habits for life. Then he posed a question, “are you more or less fit now than you were then?” For me? Pretty darned close. Yes!
I’m turing fifty in a few months. Many of my peers are acting way beyond their years, tottering around the grocery store. I just moved back to my home town, and as I walk through Target and Whole Foods, I feel like I’m peering into every face, “do I know you?” It’s kind of confusing. Some of us are young and spry, others, old and decrepit. Some of us are embracing life, squeezing every moment out of it, others are huddling under a blanket, waiting to die.
My grandfather lived to be over 100. Fifty is only half way there. I’m not even half way there, yet. I don’t need fifty whole years to get ready to die. I got me a whole bunch of living to do. Anyway, at 100, Grandpa lived alone in his house, my grandmother had passed some years before. He fixed his own meals, often bacon and eggs for breakfast. He mowed his own lawn. With a push mower, the non-motorized kind. At noon, he’d walk several blocks to the convalescent hospital to have lunch, not with his friends, for they had all passed. He had lunch with his friends’ children. That is so going to be me! At 100, I’m hoping to jog over to the convalescent home, and after preparing lunch of salmon, quinoa and kale for my friends’ kids, I’m going to teach a Zumba class to the residents. Watch me.
How do you go up the stairs? Many of my peers, at the tender age of fifty, grasp the railing and laboriously pull themselves up, grunting and groaning like it’s going to kill them. When was the last time you ran up the stairs two at a time? That’s my preferred method, as long as no one is in my way, panting and pulling themselves along, in which case, I just politely wait at the bottom of the staircase until the path is clear and bound up the stairs. Obnoxious. I know. But it feels good!
Remember as kids? If you were in a hurry, and sometimes even if you weren’t, you ran everywhere. When was the last time you ran anywhere because you were in a hurry, or because it just felt like the thing to do?
When was the last time you balanced on a curb in a parking lot like a balance beam in the gym? I do that all the time. It’s fun. Don’t judge. I’m the weirdo who runs from the parking lot to the store even though I’m not in a hurry, smiling, balancing on the curbs with my grocery bags on my way back out to the car and bounding up the stairs two at a time at every opportunity. Meanwhile, many of my peers are cruising the parking lot for the closest parking spot to the store door and looking for the elevator once inside.
I have long said, I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of not living. And so, I choose to live life to its absolute fullest at every opportunity. I am constantly looking for ways to improve myself, mentally, physically, intellectually, spiritually, so I can get the most out of every moment in life. This is a conquest, something I am driven to do and need like breath. Is there anything in your life that you are so passionate about? Passion is the essence of life. Without passion, we just exist. Without passion for life, we are just waiting to die.
Time is short, my friends. As I am perched at the top of this mountain, nearly fifty years behind me, and, God willing, at least another fifty before me, there is an interesting paradox. I can look back over the last fifty years and think, “wow, an eternity”, then with like the flick of a switch I think, “wow, that was quick”. I know as we age, time moves at what seems a faster rate. This terrifies me. I haven’t the time to be concerned with what people think of me as I bound up the stairs, run across the parking lot, balance on a curb, jump out of an airplane, board down a mountain, ride a galloping horse through a field, a mountain bike down a grade, a kayak through whitewater. I am doing what I know how to do and what I crave, I’m living. I am preparing to die by living life to its absolute fullest, every moment of every day, and with passion. Because when I do cross that magic threshold in the sky, I want to be satisfied with what I’ve done. I want to be nourished with my accomplishments, and I am hoping that through all of it, I am able to inspire others to live well and do well. With passion.
I am nowhere ready to throw in the towel. In fifty years I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to catch me and try to wrestle that towel out of my hand. And I may still win.