A Year To Live – Part 1 – What would you do in 2017 if you knew you had a year to live?
Newsletter, January 2017
Dearest Quiet Evolutionary,
In the next few newsletters, I’m going to share with you a series of insights I’ve gained from working with people at the end of their life. I hope these insights will help you have the most incredible year in 2017.
But before we get to that, I like to suggest you use my newsletters as an opportunity to slow down. We are drowning in content. The average person scrolls through around 20 metres of content a day.
Because I have found myself flailing about in the vast Content Oceans too, I prefer now to focus on process or practice over content. An example of a practice that creates space within the noise is a mantra. ‘Mantra’ means ‘mind-protecting’. Here is a mantra I have been working with recently.
Stop. Breathe. Love
The instructions should be self-explanatory;)
So, how was the last year for you?
For me personally, this last year has been one big fat rollercoaster.
There have been some thrilling highs, like building an amazing team and working closely with some inspiring young people, parents, and professionals to build the demo of Apart of Me; running meditation groups for parents, teachers, and students and a beautiful meditation retreat where there was so much laughter and love; seeing courage and inspiration and all sorts of other qualities blossom in my therapy and coaching clients; and helping my wife write an amazing book on Inner Beauty – coming out in April;)
There have also been some heart-breaking lows: a series of personal losses culminating in the death of our dear friend Rob who came to the end of his bittersweet dance with MND just a few weeks ago. Please watch his video here.
One thing Rob taught me was this:
live each day as though it were your last day on earth
…stop putting things off for that Great Tomorrow, that illusory moment in the future, created by the ‘little worry monkey’ in your mind, when everything will be just perfect, when you’ll have enough time, enough money, enough confidence to live the life your heart desires. The small truth is that the worry monkey will never feel ready. The bigger Truth is, as Mos Def says, tomorrow may never show up, life is not promised.
Rob is clear in his poem, ‘Don’t let the moment pass; there is never enough time.‘ You have the choice. You can carry on living as though there are an infinite number of tomorrows, or you can choose to live your life for the next year in such a way that at the end of it you could die happily, in full knowledge that you had given most fully of your gift, forgiven what needed to be forgiven, loved with a full and open heart, and done things you know you would be proud of on your-death bed.
So if you don’t mind quietening down your worry monkey (give him a nice banana) for a moment, my BIG question to you is:
What would you do in 2017 if you knew you had a year to live?
Take a moment, an hour, a day to really think about this. It’s your life, and it’s a scarce resource, so be wise and take the time needed to really think about these things.
I have broken down this BIG question into some smaller questions and practices for you, which I will drip-feed over the next few emails. I have taken the first question from Dharma teacher Stephen Levine, who wrote a brilliant book called ‘A Year To Live’. You can read an interview with him about the book here. And the first question is:
which people have been kind to you in your life?
Find 5 minutes to write down a list of ‘People Who Have Been Kind To Me’. Write down at least 10 people. Go back in time. This is a gratitude practice in itself and will fill your heart with a warm and fuzzy feeling. (If you need a tip, start with your mum. She carried you for 9 months, then gave birth to you, and probably did a few things for you after that too.)
When you have your list, you can take it from the top, going through and thanking each person on that list as though you might never get the chance to thank them again. I promise you, you will feel amazing. I have been doing this over the last week, and it just feels so right. It doesn’t need to always be in person. If you can’t find that person, just imagine thanking them in your mind’s eye.
I also want to thank YOU. Thank you for taking the time to sign up to my newsletter and for reading this. With an endless amount of content available these days, where you choose to place your attention is a big decision, so I am grateful that at least for a few moments we are connected here, right now.
Please do email me stories of people who have been kind to you and how you thanked them.
I will be sharing a selection of these in an article I am writing in the New Year.
With All My Love and Blessings for a New Year lived with full heart and no regrets.