“We had a wonderful and interesting life. Now it is time for me to go. Thank you”.
Imagining the End
One spiritual exercise that has benefitted me a lot is imagining the end, at least my end. It reminds me that life is finite (there’s an end) and that life is short (that end arrives before you know it). This reminder makes me think about the quality of my finite and short life. By quality I don’t mean power, money, and acclaim people tend to associate with a good life, but more along Aristotle’s eudaimonia or human flourishing. Was my existence marked by flourishing, virtue, and wisdom?
A Wonderful and Interesting Life
I was reminded of the end recently when I received an email 9 days ago from the wife of an old business partner.
The message started:
Thank you for your mail and for the Squalene. I like to continue. Kevin (not his real name) passed away last August peacefully. His last words were: “We had a wonderful and interesting life. Now it is time for me to go. Thank you“.
I miss him. We were married for 54 years.
Best regards and good health for you and your family.
Rose (not her real name)
I love Kevin’s last words. And I love that it was to his wife. This was one of the most successful and hardest working people I know, with all kinds of achievements, homes all over the world, and relationships going back decades, and at the end, more than things amassed or accolades, he was grateful for a life that was “wonderful and interesting” and for the person he shared that wonderful and interesting life with.
Reasons to Rise
I thought about my friend, about our many conversations around business and life. I remembered a particular conversation we had while on a train in Zurich about his memories as a boy during World War 2. That must have felt even more like the end of the world than this pandemic. As bad as Covid-19 has been, I’m not facing bullets and bombs as I type this. He told his story very matter-of-factly. That was life for him at that point. It wasn’t great but it was what he had. I thought about the different events he lived through from a World War to this pandemic, and every crash, threat, and disaster in between. Yet to experience all of that and to conclude: “We had a wonderful and interesting life. Now it is time for me to go. Thank you“.
I let his words inspire me, and correct my grumbling and frustrated heart. I committed to approach life with wonder not fear; with an expectation of discovery, not tragedy; and to appreciate the people who share this short but wonderful and interesting existence. There’s so much to wake-up and look forward to. Life is wonderful. Life is interesting. There’s so much to be grateful for.
There are reasons to rise.
Dedicated to one of my earliest business mentors. Rest in Peace.