Our Precarious, Fragile Lives

James Dillet Freeman wrote a book years ago titled, Love, Loved, Loving. In the book he tells the story of a King who dies and upon his death meets an Angel who helps him review his life. The Angel asks the King for the three most important legacies he was leaving behind. Need I say what the King and the Angel thought was important were very different. Rethinking about this story led me to think about my own life which then led to everyone’s purpose in being alive.

I had a teacher who once said we bring so little of importance with us when we die. Most of our life is spent spinning on a wheel of routine, mindless thinking and living. Those moments of true import are rare.

Back to the King: For his legacies he chose how he ran his kingdom, how much money he left in the coffers and how well he treated his subjects as his top three. His Angel said while those were impressive, making love to his wife in the moonlight, sitting with his dying cat at the hearthside and playing with his grandchild even though he didn’t feel well and had other “important” matters to attend to ranked higher.

So my question for all of us to consider is when we die, what are we bringing of importance with us? We fight so hard to stay alive, to keep the physical body breathing---for what? Money, prestige, power? I don’t think so. I think we try to stay alive so hard because it is one of the mindless things that we do, that we think is expected of us. We fight so hard to stay alive yet are we really enjoying the life we are living and trying so hard not to leave?

We get so busy on our wheel of fast turning time that we forget to smile at the silly cat, forget to notice the sunset or the new spring flowers, respond with impatience rather than kindness. We skip over the tender moments with family and friends for the latest TV show or concentrate our energies and priorities on job and strangers.

Working with end of life issues all these years has shown me just how precarious life is, how fragile and short lived it truly is. It has taught me to do and say that which I want to do and say--today. When I find myself moving too fast, getting too stressed, trying too hard, I remember the King and the Angel and shift my priorities back to dwelling in the precious gift of life that I am living.

Something more...

What are your three most important legacies that you will leave behind? A TIME TO LIVE offers ideas of how to live with a life-threatening illness. Could you or someone you know benefit from reading it?

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