Don't look back and wonder
Are you afraid of death because you'll miss _____?
No one wants to look back and wonder where their years have gone. Last night as I was easing into bed, it was one of those quiet moments where you think about the day you just had and mildly regret how you spent it. Why was I so eager to get my child to bed, close the door and sit on the couch to watch TV? I work very hard, you do too. So we tell ourselves often, “I deserve this time to myself” and perhaps that is true. But something else is true, which is that each night could be your last night on earth. How did you spend your time that day and did you spend it on the things that you love?
If there was one song that I’m sure was written & produced by super-computers to appeal to the sensibilities of people in their mid 30’s or beyond, it might be “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. I remember my Father always saying how much he liked this song. “Reminds me of your sister,” he once said.
It reminds me of my daughter, who at age 11 has that amazing “I wanna do it all” kind of spirit. She talks about scuba diving between tectonic plates, hiking volcanoes, skydiving, and swimming with Great White Sharks. She has no time for electronics or social media. She’s busy planning this wild life she intends to have. My heart breaks sometimes cause I know there will come a time when these dreams she has, these dances, will slip away or lose their shine. Her teen years are coming fast, and things will get difficult. This is the way of things. But I believe she’ll keep her eye on the prize or find her way home to that dance floor.
As you’ve probably noticed, I am reading through Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Last night the passage I came to was this…
Stop whatever you're doing for a moment and ask yourself: Am I afraid of death because I won't be able to do this anymore?
This…refers to an X, Y or Z. Maybe for Aurelius it was signing decrees in the Roman court or sitting idly at the Gladiatorial arena to spectate battles to the death. He was always famously disinterested in it, but attended as the people expected their emperor to be there.
I don’t “fear” death but I do occasionally get anxious about it. I really don’t wanna die answering emails, scrolling Twitter or watching The Patient on Hulu (great new show btw). Therefore, Aurelius is asking you to not spend your time that way. Because death is coming, it is behind you and catching up. Spend your time on things you’d miss never being able to do again.
Obviously those things are: reading to my child, being with my wife, petting my dog, swimming in area rivers, teaching my daughter outdoor skills and writing.
I Hope You Dance is mostly a song about being outgoing and not passing up on opportunities to live big, and not letting fear of hurt deter you from taking leaps. But it’s also just about the finite nature of time. Money can be replenished, wounds can be healed, but you can’t get more time.
Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years
And wonder where those years have gone
I hope you dance
Have a lovely weekend.
This is the way.
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