On holiday in the l’isle de Re I came across many people. Only one, Jean, grabbed my attention with the way of his being in the world. It occurred to me that Jean was simply in the world making the most of being in the world. He showed up as being ‘natural’ – just flowing like water flows without any need to make a statement nor to seek any approval/admiration from himself or others. He occurred to me as a person at peace with himself and the world. Jean is retired/elderly (those are the facts) and yet he did not show up that way for me. He showed up as being physically fit and youthful: his physique, his clothes, the way he carried himself, the car he drove…
What is Jean’s secret?
Was Jean always this way? No. He tells me that he was like everyone else going through the motions of living without being alive. He did not focus on what mattered, what called to him, what generated joy within him. He would procrastinate. He would let opportunities slip by. He would let days idly slip by….. He was immersed in ‘ordinary’ living and not even aware of it.
Then one day 20+ years ago he found he had cancer and that he was a condemned man – the cancer was going to kill him. It was this death sentenced that freed him from his ‘ordinary’ life and opened the gate to his ‘extraordinary’ living. This death sentence transformed his view of himself, of his relationships, of his life and his living.
What makes Jean show up as ‘extraordinary’?
Jean does not take life for granted like many/most of us do. Jean does not complain/whine about life like many/most of us do. To Jean, being alive is a privilege: life and living show up as precious gift that is not to be squandered. He is clear about who he is and who he is not. He is clear about what matters and what does not matter. He is clear what he likes to do/spend his time. And being clear he acts on this clarity. Jean is committed to living fully into and making the most of each day. Today he thinks through how he wishes to spend tomorrow and when tomorrow comes he throws himself fully into it. Jean does not waste time on ‘surviving and fixing’, ‘making it’, ‘looking good, avoiding looking bad’………… He is too busy living an authentic life and thus has no time, no space, for the rubbish that goes with everyday, ordinary, inauthentic living.
You and I cannot escape death; we are all condemned to die from the moment that we are born. You and I can continue to ‘forget’ this inconvenient fact and go about ‘ordinary living’ with our addictions to ‘surviving and fixing’, ‘making it’ and ‘looking good avoiding looking bad’. Or we can live the way that Jean live where every day is a gift and what matters is to simply be one’s authentic self and put oneself fully into the game of life.
How about inventing and living from/living into the possibility of living ‘a life worth living’?
What kind of a life shows up for you as being a ‘life worth living’ for you? Given that death is sitting on our shoulders ready to tap us and take us away, how long are you and I going to wait to live a ‘life worth living’?