The Gift

There is a movie that just came out on Netflix called Don’t Look Up. The movie is about two low-level scientists who found a giant asteroid on a collision course toward Earth. These two scientists go around the world warning people of their impending doom. The movie is less about the asteroid, and more about the response that people give to these scientists. The responses vary from complacency to being degraded and ridiculed. The question is raised, “If you knew the time of your death, what would you do differently now?”. I want to pose a similar question, “If you knew the time of your death, what changes would you make in your life to become a better version of you?”. 

Most of us, if asked this question, would immediately think of things we would change or do differently. Our changes might be physical, mental, relational, or even spiritual; all of which are good aspects to consider. In fact, I would bet that we could write a list of qualities that we would change or things we would do differently. However, here’s the dichotomy of this scenario and reality: In our scenario, you know the time of your death. In reality, your death is ever a mystery.  Why would knowing our death change our response to becoming a better person? Shouldn’t we heed the idea even more so because our death is unknown? Why wait till it’s too late?

Denzel Washington said, “Every day you wake up is a new chapter to the rest of your life.” Think about that statement. Your life is a book, and you are the author. Everyday is a new chapter, and like all books, one chapter does not define the rest of the book. It is a progression; a journey; a process. Your story is what you want to make it. You can either define your story by holding on to the past, holding on to regrets, or blaming others for your lack of progress and success; OR you can define your story by waking up everyday with a passion to become a better version of you. Your past doesn’t define you. Your environment doesn’t define you. You are defined by your choices and your choices ALONE. 

If knowing our end date means we would choose to be better in different areas of our life, then why not do something about it now when our end date is unknown? If you were to sit down and write what you think people would say about you at your own funeral, what kind of things would you write? Would it all be good? Would it be honest and truthful? This exercise can be so powerful if done correctly. It gives you the opportunity to be introspective and assess the areas in your life that you know need to change. I challenge you to do this little activity. Be honest and real with yourself. If you find that you have written nothing down that needs to change, then you need to look deeper. We all have things we can change for the better.

Have you ever seen Kung Fu Panda? If you have children, it’s probably one you have seen. In the movie, there is a scene where Po, the panda, is stuffing his face full of peaches sitting under a peach tree. As Po is gorging himself, Grand Master Oogway, the tortoise, comes up and points out that the peach tree is really the Tree of Wisdom. Oogway notices that Po is worried and anxious. When asked why, Po starts telling Oogway of all the things he doesn’t seem to be able to do right. He’s more concerned about what was or what will be. Oogway then quotes an ancient proverb, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift, that is why it is called the present.” In other words, every day we are given is a present. It is an opportunity to do great things, become better, and change the parts of us that are holding us back. What are you doing with your present? Are you so consumed in your day to day activities that you stopped looking for ways to better yourself? Have you started making excuses for why you can’t be better? Or are you looking at each day as an opportunity to become a better version of you? 

Don’t waste the gift you were given. Wake up every morning and write a chapter you are proud  to have in the novel of your life. Don’t allow what has happened to determine what you do now. Rise above your struggles, overcome your hurdles, and meet challenges face to face. Determine within yourself to become better. Don’t wait till it’s too late. After all, our end is never known. Make each day count!  

As always, stay humble and serve well!

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