Death is the key to living a lush life.
It seems a bit strange to talk about death in my first blog post, but here we are.
You see, it brings up all sorts of feelings of discomfort.
We squirm, we hide, we dodge the topic or we push it aside, thinking and believing that it has no consequence to us right now.
We are all going to die.
Be it tomorrow, next week, next year, in 10 years or 50 years.
We're all going to die.
My father got diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years, and the scariest thought at the time was losing him. Thankfully, that hasn't happened yet!
But some people aren't so lucky.
A family friend's husband – who was diagnosed around the same time as my father was – committed suicide a few months later because he could no longer deal with the potential health consequences moving forward. My neighbour's husband passed away a week later in his sleep. Another neighbour of ours at the time had just been diagnosed with some terminal cancer and she had no idea how much longer she had to live.
So we're all going to die.
But this post wasn’t written to be depressing.
“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”
– Steve Jobs
Knowing you're going to die, is the best way to find out your reason to live.
What are you here for?
How will you make a dent in the universe?
What ignites your bones on fire?
What are the things that you are remarkable at?
How can your talents, strengths and qualities help to better serve you, the people around you and the world?
Fact: there's a reason why you're one in seven billion.
No one else, in the history of the world, has ever existed in the same uniqueness as you. No one will ever look identical to you. Or talk exactly as you do. Or dress exactly the same as you. Or like the same things you do, down to a tee. No one will ever be able to comprehend or understand the world in the way you do.
People can try to model or imitate your life, but that's simply all they can do! They turn into good copycats.
But they simply cannot be you.
Like it or not, you're as unique as they come.
A special snowflake.
What does that mean?
It means you matter.
Did you catch that?
More than you think.
More than you know.
More than you could possibly comprehend right now.
There are qualities and gifts inside of you that the world has been looking for, and you have a part to play in that.
If you're single, someone out there wishes they had you in their life right now.
If you've got a book in your head, there's an audience waiting to read your novel.
If you've got a business idea, the internet opens the doors to billions of customers.
If you want to dance or sing, there's a stage waiting for you at any public park with a table. (Or on Instagram Live. Your adoring fans are waiting for you!)
Stop waiting for permission to do the things you know deep in your heart you want to do.
Jump first, fear later.
Life's too short to be stuck in an unfulfilling university degree, a job you despise or a relationship that doesn’t excite you to your core. If you feel like you're already dying a bit inside, because your soul is just sapped of the zest for life, maybe it's worth taking a moment to re-assess where you're at.
“All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip, or dance, just don't tiptoe.” – Shane Claiborne
We’re not here just to survive: eat, work, sleep, repeat.
Life is meant to be lived.
So turn your life up a notch.
If you're already living at a 10, dial it up to 11.
Life's far too short to waste time worrying about unimportant things that won’t matter in 5 years.
We're all going to die.
If COVID-19 hasn’t killed you yet (I assume not since you’re reading this mail), something else eventually will…
So stop wasting away another day wishing, hoping, praying for things to change and instead, be the change you’re seeking.
Do the stuff that's important to you!
Run, hop, skip or dance.
This is your life.
I believe in you.
You are capable of so much more than you've given yourself credit for.
May the reminder of death be motivation to live life to the absolute full extent in which you're able to do so.
Some people aren't so lucky to have spare days up their sleeve, like you or I.
If someone close to you has passed away recently, I express my deepest condolences.
Here's the thing I've never understood about funerals, which often follow the death of a loved one…
Why on earth do we save all the nice things we want to say about someone until after they're gone?
Isn't it a bit late then?
I used to ignore calls from my grandmother and pass them to my mother. I’d lip sync to my mum to say to my nan, “Please don’t say I’m here – I don’t want to talk to her tonight, I’m watching The Simpsons.” True story. That happened many times over the years when I was younger. She’d never miss a birthday or Christmas, sending me money and chocolate all the way from the UK. My grandmother got diagnosed with leukaemia when she was 80 and it was aggressive and unfortunately, she passed 6 months after being diagnosed. I sure wish I could pick up the phone now to call her and tell her how much I miss her sweet, sweet voice.
The number of times I've heard, “I wish I could've said [person] this more often when you were alive,” or “I don't think I ever told [person] enough how much I love them.” or “I wish I could have shown my appreciation for [person] more whilst they were alive.”
Please, whatever you do, don't save your kind, loving words for a rainy day. The rainy day may never come, and you'll miss your opportunity. There’s no reward for storing up your love in a vault, hiding it away from the world. Kind words and kind gestures are a renewable resource. Compliments, hugs, kisses and high fives are free but mean the absolute world to the right people.
Give people your presence over presents. Flip your phone on its face when you’re sitting at a table with people; or better yet, turn on aeroplane mode. Yes, I know it’s hard when you have notification spam hitting you left, right and centre with the potential for the cute match on Tinder to text you back. However, it's the person in front of you right now, in this moment, who is literally the most important person in your life. Be fully there. If you ever want to thank me for anything, give me your presence (my love language is quality time) and I feel full to the brim with love.
Live in such a way that you're out of nice words by the end of each day, because you've shared all the good stuff that's come to your mind and bubbled up in your insides. Empty your love account so that none is left remaining and you can smile, knowing that it’s replenished each and every day because of the abundance of love that surrounds us all and we don’t have to love in rations.
Live in such a way that you leave people a little better off for having known you.
I know if I do that, I can die a happy man.
So if I were to leave you with two key points from today, they’d be:
1. You're fucking fabulous. If no one's told you that lately, then I'm telling you know. Embrace your uniqueness. Meditate on it, write it down or ask your friends and family to help you figure out what it is that you were put on this planet to do. What do you love doing? What would you be doing – even if nobody paid you to do it? How can you make a dent in the universe?
2. Don't hold in what's better let out. (Kind of like passing gas, eh?) If you have something nice to say, say it! If you have something important to say, say it! Your voice matters. Tell the ones you love, that you love them! Time flies. Life is short. Please don’t wait for a funeral to say all the kind things you recognise in someone: be that your brother, mother, sister, friend. It felt like it was only yesterday that I was just playing with my neighbours on the street…and that was 20 years ago now (I’m 26! Yikes)! High school felt like it was only last year, and boy oh boy do I not look anything like the cute little baby that I was back then.
We're all going to die.
So whilst we're alive, let's make sure we enjoy each and every moment with the ones who matter most to us.
So before we part ways for today, I’d like to leave you with a toast from Mr. Alex Hitchens (Hitch, 2006), who said it best:
“Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.”
P.S. If you were wondering if I've planned my funeral, the answer is yes. You're all invited. The colour black is banned – there are to be only bright colours worn. No dark, depressing suits and hats. Opt for the neon green jersey, the Hawaiian shirt and the glow sticks. Tissue boxes will be replaced with rainbow coloured handkerchiefs that clowns typically use for magic tricks. They'll be a DJ and a dance floor. You can only cry tears of joy, and that's probably because I'll make sure someone hires a comedian to bust your balls with some humour and pay me out once I’m gone. The funeral is only meant as a celebration of a life well lived, and if I do my job well, there won't be any need for sadness when I'm six feet under. The song I'd have played? Puffy and Faith Evan's “I'll Be Missing You” from the 90s.