Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Passionate Living

One man quipped: "It's not that I'm afraid of dying. It's just that I've been alive for as long as I can remember, and I'm kind of set in my ways."

Some people ARE afraid of dying. Others are not concerned about their death ... but they worry about how they're going to get there. Will illness linger? Or will it be sudden?

I can't even guess how or when I might die, but knowing my life will end has actually helped me to live more passionately. I think others have discovered the same phenomenon.

Journalists Bill and Judith Moyers documented death and dying in the U.S. They discovered that many terminal patients they interviewed actually began to live with joy and passion only after they learned they were dying. Like one man said, "If you are told you will never see spring again, and you live to see spring, spring takes on a whole new life." ("Modern Maturity," Sept. /Oct. 2000)

Psychologist Abraham Maslow had a similar experience. After his first heart attack he realized that his remaining days on earth were short. He wrote about it to a friend: "My river never seemed so beautiful (Maslow lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the Charles River). The confrontation with death -- and reprieve from it -- makes everything look so precious, so sacred, so beautiful and I feel more strongly than ever the impulse to love it, to embrace it, and to let myself be overwhelmed by it...."

Can you imagine feeling that way? He ends with this remarkable statement: "Death and its ever present possibility makes love, passionate love, more possible. I wonder if we could love passionately, if ecstasy would be possible at all, if we knew we'd never die."

Why wait until we are told by a doctor that we may not have much time to live. Aren’t we all terminal? We became so at birth. And that is a wonderful thing to know. For strange as it may seem, knowing life is all too short can help us to live ... beautifully, meaningfully, passionately.

It is a matter of embracing every day as if it were your last. Saying what needs to be said today. Making plans to do today what you’ve been putting off. And taking some time maybe just to do nothing but appreciate life.

Like Emily says in Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town”: “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?” I hope that I can say, “Yes, at least a few times, I think I really did.”

 -- Steve Goodier

Image: freeimages.com/Enrique Velazco


Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, Steve. As you know, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer at 67 and summed up my life It had been full and rich and satisfying and I had no sense of anything unfinished, no feeling that this diagnosis was unfair, or too soon.
Yet, since surgery and a return of the cancer and more therapy, I have accomplished a whole series of things I had never done before: publishing complex books of family history, a play and the now becoming famous murder mystery dinner. And we bought a caravan and have toured more in our lovely country.
I think I always valued life and knew that it was terminal. But the diagnosis dramatically sharpened that awareness and continues to give me new appreciation of things and people around me.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Goodier, you are so right in this post. I am in a wheelchair due to a birth defect and the love of my life is in another state, dying of lung cancer. He is only forty years old, and frankly, I know it does not matter, if He were 100, this still hurts sooo badly. He however, has taken a different approach than I. He has said to me "Love, maybe this is "Gods" way of making sure we can be together forever." You see, we "met" in a nice chatroom and well with my disability and His illness, in this life, we never would have met, and now maybe there is a "plan B." Thank you so much for this article. I have shared it with a lot of my friends and my boyfriend.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely Steve. Three years ago my best friend died suddenly from a brain tumour he didn't know he had. I hadn't seen him for 4 months because of both our stupidity, self-righteousness and fear.

The pain from that experience and some words he wrote to me 2 months before he died, "Life is too short to wallow in self pity", have given me a new perspective and love of life, realising that now is the time to love and be happy.

That inspired me to create www.lovethismoment.com - a little movie about seeing the beauty that exists right now - that I want to share with everyone. I'd love people to get what I learnt from that experience without having to wait or go through the pain I did. It's also a good reminder for me when I forget (ah to be human!!)

Love and laughter,

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr.
have a nice day, we live to love all people when every human doing that we will be fine in our life ,when we will think in the other people and doing any thing good for them we will be happy and I hope every body in all the worled be good and fine and helping the others and Best of luck , and be HAPPY .. those who wish to sing, always find a song !
your freind
wahed mansour - accountant in egypt