Speaker, Coach, Blogger

Don't let doing replace living

“...and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”  ― Vincent van Gogh

Yesterday, we celebrated my father-in-law’s 80th birthday. At the same time, I’d read a wonderful post onMediumentitledLife Lessons from an 80 year old man(how serendipitous).

I don’t know about you, but to live 80 years seems amazing, not just to be alive that long but to live with all those memories -- for the person and everyone else. But we’ve got to be so careful that (a) it’s not for the wrong things and (b) we’re not driven to do better or more than our forebears to make sense of our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in making the most of the time we’re here, but busyness is not the same as living, however seductive the former might appear.

Take something like kindness and imagine committing to a life where that was yourraison d'être (instead of success). Or thoughtfulness; or something even more profound like love.

Can you see what I’m getting at?

I can see how I might not be comparing like with like, i.e. what you do (“I’m a writer”) is not the same as living through kindness, but there’s a risk that we spend so much time chasing the dream we forget that no one’s going to remember us for how many things we owned, the things we accomplished or empires we built.

I’m not suggesting that you socially engineer your life -- how contrived -- but you could do worse that undertake a daily review of what you did or didn’t do in pursuit of your higher purpose. (This is no different to the wayBenjamin Franklintried to reflect on each day by asking the question:“What good have I done today?”).

In my case, I know that too much of my life has been spent chasing the wrong things (climbing the ladder only to find it’s against the wrong wall is more apt), and even though I’m not sure I’m in a position yet to nail my colours to one thing, I know that if I were to live a life of nonviolence in speech, act and thought, it would help me in so many ways.

What about you?

How would you like to be remembered?