Is it selfish to do what you want? Is it better to wait until later, when people don’t need you and you have fewer responsibilities? I don’t think so.
When people ask me why I do the things I do, why I’m so obsessed with being happy and doing what I want whenever I can, my answer is always the same:
Because I could die.
Of course, it’s not just that I could die, it’s that I will. We all will. The question is only when and how, and it’s that unknown that keeps me pushing myself to seek out new opportunities and saying yes when the scary ones fall into my lap. It’s because we are always one freak accident away from death that I keep saying you should do what you want today, that we all should.
I realize I have the luxury of using the philosophy of death to motivate me to live. Jenny Meyerson is inspired by reality.
Jenny is a wife and mother of three and she used to have cancer. Thankfully, she underwent treatment and is now healthy and cancer free, but something happened when she was undergoing treatment.
From Jenny’s blog:
“When I was going through treatment, I was challenged by a former chemo buddy of 70 years of age to write down everything I wanted to do in life and “Go for it”. It was a bucket list- long before the movie. He wasn’t going to survive and knew it and told me his only regret was talking himself out of doing things.”
I suppose it makes sense that staring death in the face would give you a new perspective on life. We’d almost expect Jenny to become more inspired than the rest of us, wouldn’t we?
When you almost die, you should get to do what you want.
Except Jenny, like the rest of us, proved to be human. She got better, she survived, and she went back to working as a nurse. Like the rest of us, Jenny found she was not immune to the trappings of day-to-day life and the rut of routine.
“…fast forward 6 years and I was standing over a young patient that had died (I’m a nurse), and suddenly I felt flush and realized that I had done very few things on my bucket list. I was granted 6 more years yet hadn’t done all that I could have done. Not to sound like an old Army commercial with “Be all you can be” but I was granted 6 more years than my chemo buddy and I hadn’t done much of what I promised (him or myself) I would.”
It’s hard to imagine that someone could come so close to losing their life and still take time for granted.
And yet, don’t we all? How many times do you read a story about a tragic accident and run home to hold your family tight, only to go back to bickering and mindless, group TV nights? How many close calls have you had in a car, and how soon did you forget that every day is merely borrowed?
How often do you promise you’ll do what you want someday… when the kids are grown… when you have time?
Jenny has decided to make that list, and it’s epic. It is a premium life list that covers ultimate dreams (own a lake house and a boat) and simple pleasures (take the kids to feed the giraffes), over 1,000 items in all.
Yes, 1,000. Actually, at last count there were more than 1,300 items on that list. And if that seems a bit insane, well, Jenny doesn’t care.
“No longer am I going to stand in the way of myself accomplishing these 1300+ items. Will I accomplish them all? Perhaps not- but not on the account for lack of effort, money, or self-doubt. Will I be accomplished in all that I set out to do? No- but I have a great sense of humor and ability to laugh at myself along the way. Will I add more and take some things away? Yep. Why? Because it’s my list. I’m in control of my choices, actions, experiences, and attitude.”
Go on, do what you want today. Then, if you’re lucky enough to see another day, do what you want tomorrow. Because you can. Because you can die. Because you and I will die; it’s only a question of when. Do what you want.
Not sure what you want to do?
Maybe you should make a list.