Our time on this earth is limited. Live it to the full, every day, even when that means you feel down, shattered, floored.
Life is a rich tapestry of experiences. Live it. Wait no more!
(video of the speech by Steve Jobs at the bottom of this post)
Today I give you the completion of a stream of consciousness I wrote on Friday, three days ago, when I got the news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide, which I already wrote about briefly two days ago.
Memento Mori. Remember you will die.
A gift of being a Modern Elder is that we realise that, though we may remain curious and grow more and more in passion to contribute, we also realise as we are in the second half of the game of life that our time is limited… “remember, your time is limited”.. as Steve Jobs would say.. so we remain ever more present, we have the gift in age of what feels like a visceral choice to make the most of each day, each moment…or, as in Shawshank Redemption, “get busy living, or get busy dying”,
I was just talking about this in a café to support a Modern Elder in their early 60s to reframe how they see themselves in the world of work… and we talked about how this awareness of mortality can be energising as we know we could be taken at any time by some medical condition or other. This gentleman was energised and as I left the café around midday on a glorious London summer’s day… I checked my phone, and one of my sons had messaged me about Bourdain…..
Depression is real, mental health is still stigmatised… as for me, I was utterly shattered by this news in the moment. I’d only met him once, I had a friend who knew him well and had regaled me with stories about him.. so why was I flattened?
It was not rational, yet I was really floored, tears flowed freely, then I felt very low.
Feelings aren’t rational, we feel what we feel. We can choose to let them pass. They will, like a bus, our beings will choose another one and another. We can choose to feel what we feel and know it will pass, and another will be along in a minute.
It has only been in recent times, through a focus on my wellness at a difficult time personally that I have learned the practice of accepting feelings as they pop up and “holding them softly” so they can pass and not burrow down into my pysche.
Last Friday, knowing this, I did have the awareness to take some time out that afternoon, that the feeling would pass, and pass more quickly when I fully allowed it to flow through me and not bottle it up or look to think it away, to distract myself or otherwise judge the feeling as something to be got rid of.
However, it was easy for me to do this in my world of work. I am self-employed, I don’t report to anyone, I have understanding clients should I miss a meeting or deadline. What about all those who don’t’feel they have that freedom? That they have to adopt a “stiff upper lip” and “press on” despite feeling unable to work and can barely function. They have to hide what they are feeling and their state of being from their colleagues out of fear of being judged, stigmatised.
What if, instead, we changed the conversation? What if everyone felt absolutely comfortable simply sharing with their colleagues, their boss, that (like me last Friday afternoon) they feel unable to work for the rest of the day. Right now we know the answer, and it is not one we are proud of as a society. We feel what we feel.. and sometimes that means we feel flattened.. yet society still stigmatises us for feeling….let us shift this to be in support of each other.. we are human beings, not human doings.
Nobody knows why Anthony Bourdain hung himself, but those who have had even fleeting moments of the deep, smothering blackness of such depression can understand the power of the feeling to escape that by any means. Again, feelings are not rational. Sentio ergo sum, not cogito ergo sum.
If we push down our feelings and press on, if we bury them and feel to share is shameful, that we will be judged, we will be thought of negatively, we ourselves will feel guilty. Bottling up such feelings can be very dangerous and can be a very real contributor to that bottle of fears later exploding, with dramatic effects, from physical violence to self or others, right up to suicide.
Feel what we feel… allow it.. don’t bottle it up and press on….and support others, support your friends, your family, your colleagues. Oh, and don’t wait for them to come to you. If you sense their pain, reach out. Your hesitance won’t serve anybody!
To close around that note, when Steve Jobs talked about “Your Time is Limited”, when the stoics talked about “Memento Mori”, when Robin Williams taught his charges “Carpe Diem” in Dead Poet’s Society… what are you waiting for ? Live your life today, wait no more.. and that includes always reaching out to those you care about when you sense they are in need.
…end of stream of consciousness, I hope this helps even one person… no, two.. as it helped me to download it. Thank you
Wait no more, seize the day, the moment. Be Present. Memento Mori !
Over to you, Mr Jobs.