When people are dying, it is easy for them to recognize that every minute, every breath counts. But the truth is, death is always with us, integral to life itself. Everything is constantly changing. Nothing is permanent. This idea can both frighten and inspire us. Yet if we listen closely, the message we hear is: Don’t wait.
Jack had been a heroin addict for fifteen years, living out of his car. Thinking he had a chest cold one day, he went to the emergency room at San Francisco General Hospital. He was diagnosed with lung cancer. Three days later, he moved into Zen Hospice Project. He never went back to his car.
Jack kept a journal, which he occasionally shared with me and other volunteers. He wrote:
Over the years, I’ve put things off. I figured there was always plenty of time later on. At least I’ve managed to do one major project: I finished that training to be a motorcycle mechanic. Now, they tell me I got less than six months. I’m gonna fool them. I’m gonna make it longer than that . . .
Ah, who am I kidding? To tell the truth, I’m scared, angry, tired, and confused. I’m only 45 years old and I feel like I’m 145. I have so much that I want to do, and now there isn’t even time to sleep.
George Harrison told the truth when he sang, “All things must pass.” This moment gives way to the next. Everything is vanishing before our eyes. This is not a magic trick. It is a fact of life.Impermanence is an essential truth woven into the very fabric of existence. It is inescapable,… via @fostaseskiTweet This
Embracing the truth that all things inevitably must end encourages us not to wait in order to begin living each moment in a manner that is deeply engaged. We stop wasting our lives on meaningless activities. We learn to not hold our opinions, our desires, and even our own identities so tightly. Instead of pinning our hopes on a better future, we focus on the present and being grateful for what we have in front of us right now. We say “I love you” more often because we realize the importance of human connection. We become kinder, more compassionate, and more forgiving.
It is the impermanence of life that gives us perspective. As we come in contact with life’s precarious nature, we also come to appreciate its preciousness. Then we don’t want to waste a minute. We want to enter our lives fully and use them in a responsible way.
Don’t wait is a pathway to fulfillment and an antidote to regret.
The Five Invitations will be released on March 14. Don’t wait to get your hands on a copy. This wisdom book is filled with anecdotes from my decades of work at the bedsides of the dying and reflections as an innovator in the field of compassionate caregiving.
Like death itself, The Five Invitations has the power to transform your life – if only you let it. Don’t wait. Pre-order your copy today!
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