Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Good Life = A Good Death

The GREATEST ACT OF SERVICE to yourself and others is to
(Never settle for anything less.)

There will never be another day just like this one so enjoy it.
 - John Threewits
And There will never be another human being just like you so share yourself generously. - Kathy McHugh

It was a good death.  This is the final line in the movie Legends of the Fall spoken in regard to the death of Tristan, the larger than life character who women wanted to bed and men wanted to be

I hadn't seen that movie in years but I flipped on the TV at the houseboat stretching on the floor after a run and couldn't stop watching it.  When I heard those words:  It was a good death, I had a visceral response to them that left me disturbed, perplexed yet oddly invigorated.  John walked in from fishing just as the movie ended so I shared all that I was feeling and asked his thoughts.  

In John's  Hillbilly Zen master way, he simply said, "Yeah, Gee, a good life makes a good death."  Being wired the way I am, I wanted more so I asked him to expand on his thoughts.  "If you have a good life, it doesn't matter what the circumstances of your death are, it is also good.  A good life equals a good death."

We had no idea that within 2 months, John would meet a good death.  Right there at the houseboat, in the waters where we had played for years he would be alive one moment and dead the next.  That conversation where he shared his personal philosophy has been a healing balm for me and I too have adopted this simple yet profound belief.

This past week, my brother in-law, Chuck went to the doctor to check out a suspicious mole and found out it was melanoma.  It would take 3 days for the biopsy results to return and he would be grateful that it was stage 0 and contained to the epidermis.  But he shared that in those 3 days, he and my sister, Angie, reviewed their life, the petty things they have given energy to that wasted precious life and the things they enjoy and how they are now fiercely committed to more of that.

If we all take a pause and reflect on what makes life good and what doesn't, we can make conscious choices to let go of people and things and ways of being that no longer serve and welcome more of the goodness that makes life so damn sweet.  We don't have to wait for a health scare or crisis to really take inventory and ownership of our life.

After John died, I went through all his stuff and found a book that I had given him, "Live Like You're Dying," which included the CD by Tim McGraw.  I had written:  To the only person I know who REALLY lives every single day like he is dying...I LOVE YOU, Gee.

It was a good death.  It was a good life.

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