Live Like You Were Dying


Have you ever watched an eagle as it was flying? The sight is breathtaking, one of those life events that are not to be missed. Watching the span of those wings gliding through the air is quite an experience.

Yesterday I had a very different kind of experience, breathtaking in its own way, I made a discovery. I should have known it all along, but denial can be a great protector. Anyway, what I learned I saw on a graph, made simple so that even I could understand it. The discovery? There is a researched survival rate for persons on dialysis. To be exact, I saw one-year and three-year stats. The discovery was disconcerting.

Now, the reality is this: we all have survival rates, we just live as if we don’t. Though three years doesn’t seem long enough for me, I know that it’s possible not to even survive the day . . . for any of us. And although I am aware that the mortality study I saw simply uses one year and three-year markers to quantify the study, it reminded me that I am certainly not immortal, that my time on earth is finite, and that I need to learn to live life with a sense of enthusiasm and spontaneity.

Two contemporary examples illuminate this discussion.

The first is “The Bucket List’, a 2007 comedy-drama film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman which follows two terminally ill men on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.”

The second is an uplifting song written by Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols, and recorded by Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying.” The songwriters had the inevitable discussion about people who learned that they were dying and how they responded: “Wow, it’s time to get busy,” as opposed to, “I’m going to go lay down in my bed and freak out.”

The lyrics of the song give some suggestions for full-on, “make-the-most-of-life” living, like skydiving, climbing rocky mountains, and riding a bull for 2.7 seconds. If you know me at all, you know that there’s no way I’ll be doing any of those things in the years I have left. But the song includes some things I will do: watch an eagle as it soars, give forgiveness I’ve been denying, love deeper, speak sweeter. Some of the lyrics . . .

I went sky divin’,
I went rocky mountain climbin’,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I watched an eagle as it was flyin’.
And he said someday I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin’.

The truth is that all of us should live as if we are dying, bucket lists in hand, forgiveness in our hearts, on the way to the fishing hole!

The song is available on YouTube at this link:

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