Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Don't Come to the End of Your Life Like This

I can see this happening to me. I really don't want to float around the world like a piece of driftwood in the water. I want to go somewhere and I want to drive.

Two years ago, I was asked to deliver the eulogy of a relative. It was an extreme challenge, as this person, unfortunately for them, lived the life of quiet desperation that Henry David Thoreau warned about. She didn’t have many friends (or none that bothered to even come to the funeral), and she wasn’t close to any of her family members, including her own child. I had really nothing to work with, no references to draw from, and no contribution or positive effect her life had on others or the world around her to mention.

The bulk of my eulogy ended up trying to explain (justify, really) her behavior and probably why she lived the way she did. The fact was, there was very little “life” actually lived there. She has now been gone for two years, and the loss is hardly noticeable. I am saddened even thinking about it—not sad for the loss of her, though, but sad for the life she lost out on.

This experience crystallized an important life philosophy for me: Write your eulogy now.

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