This Sunday my family is holding a memorial service for my dad. He passed away on 28 December 2019. He lived a long life and had many wonderful experiences, including a long and loving relationship with my mother for almost 50 years.
The passing of a family member, close friend, or even people of fame, is a sharp reminder of our mortality. Whether we like it or not, death is an inevitable fact of life – the yin and the yang, the beginning and the end. Just like the sun rising and setting, life and death are part of the continuous cycle of nature.
What are your feelings in relation to death? Is it something you fear, something you consider often, or something you try not to think about. If you have been diagnosed with a serious illness then perhaps you are more strongly aware of the hands of time speeding your path towards the end. If you work in the medical field, then perhaps you are confronted with this on a daily basis. No matter the situation, you will have had some thoughts about the end of life at some point in time.
Until fairly recently, I used to experience this feeling of deep sadness, fear and urgency about dying. It would plague me late at night as I lay in the darkness of my bedroom, wondering what am I doing here and whether I was ever going to live my purpose. All those things that I dreamt about doing and experiencing, would they ever eventuate? Would I die having truly lived, or die with regrets?
And then I had to think about it, not because I was diagnosed with a terminal illness or had a near death experience, but because I did an exercise where I was required to visualise my funeral if I was to die in three years time – who would be there, what would it look like, and what would my friends, family and work colleagues say about me? What did they appreciate about me? What did my life mean to them? What impact did I have? The most interesting thing that this task required me to consider was what I would want them to say about me that I hadn’t done yet. Yes! All those things that I hadn’t done yet because I was too busy, too scared, not ready, or insert whatever excuse you like. This was a big wake up call. It made those dark fearful moments in the middle of the night spring into focus and I realised that it if I wanted to leave a legacy, then now was the time to start. It made me think that I didn’t want to die not having followed my dreams for my life. It meant that I had to start showing up on a daily basis and living my legacy now. But what does that mean?
Well, I think it means different things to everybody, but for me it means being loving, caring, courageous, determined, focused, kind, and honest. It means living a life where I feel that what I do is serving other people, where I can explore my purpose and bring joy. It means being a role model for others. It means getting out of my comfort zone and using those experiences to grow into something bigger. And it means loving myself and being my own best friend.
Ultimately, every day is an opportunity to focus on the things that you want to do and be. Personally, there are lots of things I want to explore and now I make sure that I stop making excuses for not doing them. That’s why I’m learning a new language, taking dance classes, spending more time with family and friends, writing blog posts and making videos, and experimenting with new offerings in my yoga business. I’m showing up and becoming the person that I want to be remembered for because if I don’t do it now, later will be too late.
So, I ask you now, what will be your legacy? What are those things you want people to say about you that you haven’t done yet? Maybe you need to forgive someone for something, say sorry for a transgression, or rekindle an old friendship. Perhaps you have a deep desire to learn something that will ignite your soul, or share something you are passionate about with others. Whatever it is, take some time to think it over and then start doing what needs to be done… because death is inevitable.