Recently one of my clients invited me to the premiere of Act of Valor, a serious action movie filmed with active Navy Seals. I typically prefer a nice, light romantic comedy, but I have to say that the movie blew my mind in a lot of ways. For the record, I am so grateful for the sacrifices that our military members and their families make, and so impressed with their honor and strength and bravery. If you haven’t seen the movie you should, if only to open your eyes a little bit to the things that other people worry about so the average American citizen doesn’t have to.
In the movie there is a very powerful quote from Tecumseh. It reads, “When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”
Now if you can get past the whole morbid, depressing death stuff, it’s kind of an amazing, eye-opening thought. We spend so much time thinking about how to lengthen our lives. The entire health and wellness industry is based on living longer and looking and feeling younger. We (try to) exercise, eat better, and take supplements to extend our lives. We take medicine to bring down our cholesterol levels. We wear seatbelts and sunblock. We quit smoking.
But instead of worrying about living longer (especially since it’s not something we have a tremendous amount of control over) what if we just try to live better? I want to make every second count. I want to be lying on my death bed with every ounce of fun and joy in my body squeezed out of my life like an old sponge. To be honest, I don’t really know how to do that. It’s easy to say that I would just jump on a plane and travel the world and that would mean I would be living my life to the fullest, but I’d probably get homesick or catch malaria or get kidnapped by an evil drug lord. I could quit my job and spend my life volunteering, but money and health insurance help make my life easier (and I’d be really sad to not be able to afford cute shoes or a nice bottle of wine).
One of my dreams in life is to become a published novelist. That said, I don't think I'd regret it if that dream doesn't come true as long as I did everything in my power to put myself out there and try. By the same token, if I fail at my job but I made a million sales calls and tried to leave it all on the table, then I'd have no regrets. The regrets aren't in the failing, they're in not trying.
So at this point in my life I'm going to commit to trying. To putting myself out there. To appreciating the beautiful pink sunset on my way home, even if that sunset is draped over a stagnant line of cars puffing out exhaust on I-95. To really enjoy my morning cup of coffee, even if it’s sitting at my kitchen table watching The Today Show and not sitting in Piazza Navona in Rome. Sure, it’s not nearly as glamorous and exciting as jet-setting around the world until I run out of free couches to sleep on, but it’s something.
That said, if anyone wants to become my rich benefactor so I can actually be sitting in Piazza Navona instead of the suburbs in PA, I’m all ears…