– (Originally published February 2016) –
Should someone you care for tell you they only have 3 days to live, how would you feel? What would you say to them? This conversation recently came up while talking with a close friend. It was spurred on by the recent death of a mutual acquaintance, a friend of both of ours. Our friend had been murdered. Death all the same, just one you are totally not prepared for, nor expecting. And that is the point, life can throw some unexpected things at you. One day you are just walking down the sidewalk minding your own business. Perhaps you are thinking good thoughts or possibly dwelling on the negative in your life, when out of nowhere, a car goes out of control, an old person in their late eighties driving when they should not be has a dizzy spell, passes out or maybe even suffers a stroke. That is definitely going to stop them from ever driving again. As you notice the car careening out of control and coming at you, while your only thought: “shit”.
Things like this are happening all the time and everywhere. And this isn’t even the story of what happened to our friend, he was gunned down in the street by some punk kid who wanted to commit “suicide by cop”. Yes our friend was a police officer.
In that profession, law enforcement, there is an inherent risk involved and the possibility of coming into harms way is likely greater than for the average citizen. Our friend had been called in to work on his day off as the department was short handed, damn budget cuts. I guess it was a chance to get in some overtime and help out the department at the same time. Our friend was a caring and considerate person. The call came into the precinct, our friend was dispatched to investigate and was killed while trying to talk to this kid who had a gun and felt like having a gun fight.
Lots of jobs that don’t include policing have a higher percentage of work related deaths, the construction industry for one. Workers around construction sites are constantly getting themselves killed. Electrocuted, squished under heavy equipment, killed by falling debris or even good stuff. Yes, I know first hand that construction is dangerous. I’ve had my share of mistakes, (nobody says accidents any more as the thinking is everything can and should be avoided), that came close to killing me. I’ve been electrocuted, I’ve fallen off ladders, come close to falling off buildings, I’ve even been blown up, on no less than two occasions. Once my friend and co-worker got a blow back that threw him back, I was crouched down behind him and directly behind me was a roof hatch with a 30 foot drop to the floor down below. He knocked me backwards through the hatch but had the presence of mind to grab for me as I was falling through the hatch. My mother always use to say I had nine lives. I’ve lost track of where I stand, math never was my strong suit.
I suppose it’s just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some would say fate, it’s out of your hands and beyond your control. It is better to stay in your house, never go outside, never take a chance. But then what kind of life is that?
I was in Florida recently, just this winter, not hurricane season. The land of sand, sun and loads of people escaping the cold northern air. A couple of tornado warnings were put out one night, the warning came through on my cell phone. I had gotten a local phone number and data plan for my cell phone when I first arrived in Sarasota, Florida.
I didn’t see the warnings until the next morning. Too late, stupid phone that doesn’t have a loud enough warning system. My phone vibrates and has a pleasant audible tone like a little marimba playing a scale, so as not to bother anyone. Of course the warning on my phone fell on deaf ears. I noticed the warning when I awoke the next morning. Two text messages. I pressed the lock button of my phone with my right thumb print unlocking the phone, the messages disappeared as if they had never existed.
Lots of people I spoke with later in the day reported they too had received the warnings and they also ignored them. The difference being they are Florida residents and did not take it seriously, as I just slept through it. In either case, ignorance is bliss. About ten miles down the road from my little cottage one of the tornadoes touched down and roared through a trailer park making a direct hit on one trailer destroying it and killing two of the occupants and critically injuring three others. Another tornado touched down closer to the coast, an affluent place, Siesta Key. It made quite a mess, ripping up trees and flattening a few car ports and resident cars, but sparing lives.
So staying in your house may not be an option for protecting yourself from the world at large.
What do you do? I think it helps if you can examine your life and try to decide if you are living a good life. How can you determine something as abstract as that? Everyone is going to have a different interpretation on what constitutes a good life. That being the case you can only speak for yourself. Are you considerate of others? Do you try to live life with positivity? Are you a productive member of society? Are you caring, do you share and are you loving?
Being human we all have our faults, I myself have too many to actually list here but I know what they are, or at least the ones that actually bug me. There are probably lots that bug other people but not enough to have actually caused any threats.
Back to the original question, if somebody told me they only had three days to live I would tell them to get their shit together. Don’t waste any time, don’t dwell on stupidity. There are things and people in this world that just try to drag you down and these are the things you have to let go of. You have to bring yourself to a state of peace of mind with who and what you are. Give thanks for all that you have been able to accomplish. Throw away the regrets and the guilt. Open your heart and your soul, to take in all the goodness that surrounds you. If you are having trouble seeing any goodness, then look deeper into the shadows of your heart and try to let the light shine into your soul. When you look deeply into your heart you must find something that gives you pleasure or gave you a sense of well being. Is it a person, a place or something, or is it simply a feeling? What ever it is that gives you that sense of peace and harmony, that is where you should go. You must make sure that all your feelings of negativity are flushed out of your system, an enema tonic for your soul.
Take the time that you have to become aware of the feelings that give you the most pleasure. Meditate and focus all of your energies on maintaining a harmonious, peaceful spirit. You will find joy within yourself, you will bring joy to those around you and you can live your 3 days as though there was no tomorrow.
And that’s not to say you are going to go out and party like there’s no tomorrow. It is saying, that every day is a day to give thanks. Thanks for all that has come to you, for what you have been blessed with and for the blessings that you can share with others. We are all one in the Universal.
Paul J. Youngman