I participated in a Life Coaching Segment for the Late Show that aired this week on CBS.
Watch as I attempt to coach comedian Andy Kindler on getting a handle on his life and career.
Although I have not seen the Bucket List, I have an idea of the basic storyline. The plot is about two aging men, who through illness, are confronted with their mortality,and become intent on making the most of their remaining time. They make their “bucket lists,” a list of those things they want to do before they die, and set out to do them.
The theme of using the inevitably of death to make the most of your life is not a new one, although a movie can certainly help bring the notion into the mainstream. It was Socrates who said “practicing dying is the highest form of wisdom”.
This theme has been expressed in all types of literature, including articles, books, and poems.A quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes has always been poignant to me; “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.” Does anyone really want to die with their music still in them? You don’t need to wait to you are older, or ill, to take make your list and take action on it.
One of my earliest recollections of coming across this idea of embracing the inevitability of death to live, is in the pioneering personal development book, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. He asks the reader to imagine they were just told they have 6 months to live. What is the first thing you would do upon leaving the doctor’s office?
In the late 90’s Steven Levine’s A Year to Live was published. This book is essentially a manual, designed to instruct you on how to treat each moment as if it were your last.A blurb from the back cover says it best;“Most of us go to extraordinary lengths to ignore, laugh-off, or deny the fact that we are going to die, but preparing for death is one of the most rewarding and rational acts of a lifetime.It is an exercise that gives us the opportunity to deal with unfinished business and enter into a new and vibrant relationship with life.” No one knows which moment will be their last.People die at every and any age, from accidents, illness, and a myriad of other ways.If it were your last, would you want to die with your music still in you?
Even television is in on this; the Travel Channel’s “1000 Places to See Before You Die” is based on the book of the same name. The show features a couple who left their lives behind for 14 weeks to tour the world.
You do not need to wait until you are older or find out you have a life threatening illness, to act on your bucket list. You don’t need one more day to at least make your list. I made a list about a year ago, and Ialthough I haven’t visited all of the places on there, I am making headway. Just making the list can be a life altering action.
You may find it helpful to break your list down into sections
5 things I want to do before I die.
5 places I want to visit before I die.
5 things I want to tell the 5 most important people in my life before I or they die.
You get the idea. You can use whatever categories and amounts work for you.5
Life is a blip. As our lives go on, the years go faster and the days seem to stay just as long. There is no perfect time or moment; stop planning, start living. Life is the special occasion so use the good china for yourself, ask him out, let everyone you love know it, forgive whomever you need to forgive, make the call you have been waiting to make, take that trip, can you afford not to do what you think you can’t afford.
What’s on your list? What are you waiting for?