I recently heard the song Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw on the radio, and it got me wondering what I’d do differently if I took his advice. I don’t want to sound macabre, but I found this exercise to be refreshing and eye-opening. Here are the options I pondered:
- Go on a wild shopping spree? Buy a fancy house or car? Not likely – I’m not much into “stuff” and I certainly wouldn’t want to burden my family members with the outcome of my self-indulgence once I was gone. And after all, if my days were numbered (and actually they are – I just don’t know what the number is), it doesn’t seem that buying things I couldn’t take with me would be very meaningful. OK, no shopping spree for me.
- Splurge on an extravagant vacation? More likely – I’ve been a lot of places, but there’s a whole lot of this big planet I haven’t seen. Visiting other parts of the world, or even the country, always amazes me on several levels: people around the world are definitely more alike than different; human beings have certainly used their creativity and gifts to create some fabulous architecture, artwork, cuisine, etc.; there is no shortage of beautiful scenery to be found around the world. Yes, traveling would definitely appeal to me. However, having once spent a lonesome month in Sweden on solo business trip, I know I wouldn’t want to travel alone. So I’d only embark on such an adventure if it included the people I love.
- Immerse myself in a hobby? Hmm, do I even have any hobbies? There are lots of outdoor things I love to do – bicycling, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, camping, in-line skating, cross-country skiing – but I view these more as weekend activities than hobbies. What do I do in the evenings during my free time? Free time? Well therein lies my problem – I seem to spend my evenings catching up on emails, returning phone calls, running errands, doing chores around the house and other equally mundane tasks. It’s definitely time for a hobby. I’ve always wanted to excel at playing the piano. In fact, my family knows that my goal is to be able to play Layla, which is a very advanced piece of music. Given that I haven’t played the piano or taken a lesson in over a year, and my skill level is about the same as when I played in second grade, I have a long way to go. This is my wake-up call to start practicing.
- Spend more time with friends and family? There’s definitely work to be done here. I’ve gotten much better over the years about connecting with the important people in my life, but I’m a long way from spending too much time with them. Yes, more time with friends and family is important, and I will try to plan at least one activity per week to make sure I stay connected.
Well there you have it – my simple yet eye-opening self-assessment on how to live a more meaningful life. I look forward to hearing what you might do differently if you were to live like you were dying. Meanwhile, I’ll be subjecting my family and neighbors to my piano playing.
Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,