What questions will you ask yourself before you die?
I used to visit a man named Ross at the nursing home. To be honest I was not always sure that it mattered. He was only semi conscious and I never actually heard his voice.
Once a week or so I would read to him, talk a bit about the most recent news, pray for him and then leave. I really knew nothing about his life.
Questions you will ask yourself before you die
One afternoon I received a call from the nursing home telling me that Ross had died. I asked some questions about funeral services and family. The nurse reported that they had orders to bury him with a simple headstone.
She also told me that his family wanted nothing to do with him and would not even be notified. She only called me so that I would not waste my time coming to see him. Suddenly I understood why I visited Ross.
It was for this moment.
After some investigation I discovered that before Ross had become sick he was mean and abusive. He had live a regrettable life with little to show that he had ever been here except a simple headstone in a cemetery out of the way in small town America. It was in that moment that I decided that I was going to live a life that was worth more than a stone. Routinely ask these questions to live a life that matters.
Did I love well?
At the Gospel Rescue Mission where I work, I see many who have burned every possible bridge with family and friends. Some have stolen from children or done other abuses. They feel utterly alone and afraid. Love and connection is a need, not a want. We need love.
When we cannot find love in people we will find it at the bottom of a bottle or in a baggie. Love and connection with people brings life. All other searches for love end in death of heart and soul. I envision a funeral for myself one day that matters. Surrounded by friends and family they support one another in grief and in love.
I do not want to end up alone in a nursing home with no one caring. I desire someone to be called and informed that I have passed away and to them it matters. If I want that to be true I need to love well every day. I must seek to talk and play and care about others more than myself. At the end of the day I ask myself, “Did I love well?”
Did I live well?
How did I live? Was a villain or a hero? How did I interact with strangers? Did I live well? Did I give more than I took or will I be remembered as a giver? All of these are questions that I ponder.
It is my greatest desire to be remembered as a force for incredible good in this world. Each day I examine my choices and actions. How did I live today? How can I do it better tomorrow? I hate regrets, I choose to ask myself routinely, “Did I live well?”
What is my legacy?
All men die but not all men truly live. What will you leave behind that has value? Our stuff will be disseminated. Some will be tossed in the trash and others will be fought over. However, all that really matters is the impact of your life.
Are there people in the world that are still alive and living inspiring lives because of you? If not examine your surroundings. Who can I impact today? Consistently look around and determine who might be able to carry on your legacy.
Where do I want to live?
I now live in the home that I intend to spend my last days. Those days are most likely still a long way off. Yet the woods and fields bring me peace and joy. I long to have a home not just a house.
I love to hear the voices of my family and the clucking of the chickens. Over the next several years I will make improvements and be filed with joy more and more. But this is my place, my castle and my life. Where do you want to live?
What do I still want to accomplish?
I have felt this way many times before, a deep dissatisfaction. I want more and accomplish more with my life. I believe it is possible to essentially eliminate poverty in America. Will I pull that off? I am going to give it my all. What do you want to accomplish before your life is done. Have you made it real by taking action?
What is my life’s purpose?
For the past twenty years this one has haunted me and motivated me. Today I will run a 10K so that I am healthy enough to someday play with grandchildren and have the energy to give my family my whole being.
Purpose means that there is more to you than just borrowing oxygen for a season. Everyone, yes you too, has a purpose. Seek it and find it. There is no greater quest. When you find it you will find reasons to get out of bed and a reason to overcome difficulty. Ask yourself what is your life’s purpose.
What have I added to humanity?
As a Boy Scout growing up I routinely heard, “Let’s leave it better than we found it.” We would clean up the campsite and throw out trash that may have been left by previous tenants. We would be instructed to pick up trash that we would see as we walked to a museum or anyplace else our adventures would take us.
This was great character building. This is also true for those of us who want to finish our lives well. What are you adding to humanity before you die? Let us determine to leave it better than we found it.
Who do I need to forgive?
No doubt many have let you down and disappointed you. Some might have deliberately abused you and lied about it or stolen from you and gloated.
Regardless holding on to that angst and frustration will not help you any today nor in the future. The choices of others might shape the amount that you can trust them, but do not hold a grudge. Do what you can to be a forgiving person.
What adventures do I need to live?
There is always time for one last adventure. In 1952 my grandfather returned from the Korean conflict by plane. He did not get on a plane again until he was in his 70s. He hated flying.
But he wanted to feel fully alive so not only did he fly to the east coast he went parasailing with my cousin. That is a great life. Adventures show us that we are alive. We need more of them before we die.
How will I be remembered?
Those closest to me know me. I have been told that I am a good man. But is that how I will be remembered? Is that even how I want to be remembered? Most days that is good enough.
But what I really want to be remembered as is a hero and a daring adventurer who spoke to thousands and lived a life that helped others live successfully. If I want to be remembered that way I still have some work to do.
Today you have a choice. Rather than wait until the last moment, start asking yourself these questions today before you die. In those last moments you might be focused on other less important things like breath and blood flow. In life what is important is important. Live well.