My writing coach once asked me a pertinent but interesting question, one morning when I shared that I was feeling stuck for what to write. It was in the midst of a harsh winter in London. While he sat on the other side the world during our Skype call in shorts and a vest enjoying the Californian sunshine.
“Imagine this was your last day on earth and you could write down your last article with something meaningful and important to pass on, what would it be?”
Thoughts of lying on my death bed, family around me awaiting the dreaded moment, whilst I, nonchalantly uttered the last few words that would render me of value to the world. The precise words would then be immortalised in stone (or passed on as creative quotes around Instagram).
So what would my last nugget of wisdom be? After all, I had been roaming the world for 51 years; unlike the trendy bloggers who have been on this earth for just about 2 decades and profess to know the elixir of life.
Okay here goes.
“Nothing really matters.”
Yes, simple, no Hollywood extravaganza or grandiosity, just simple philosophy.
All those things we stress about, get worried about (as if we think this will make us more capable to deal with an issue), really don’t matter. We spend years of our life deliberating and stressing over the minutia of life, who said what and how and we dissect it, ponder over it, personalise and break it apart; in the meantime, wasting so much time and energy in the process.
It doesn’t really matter.
In fact, let me get specific, some things do matter, such as family, a tiny collection of incredibly loyal friends, children (if you have any), and charity or environmental causes you feel passionate about; nothing else. When push comes to shove, it’s all clutter and excess baggage.
This insight came to me by accident. After years of running after every shiny light available; I began to volunteer at a facility with end of life and terminal patients; these people had been previously successful, accomplished and had created great wealth, which was now being used to fund their care.
Tripping into this role by accident, organically slowed me down and made me more laser focused than I had ever been. I realised during this time how I had spent my life turning my eyes away from the end of life, as one does so when a bright light is shone directly into your eyes. I feared the lack of control and vulnerability that this would bring. I avoided being around elderly people; I made an exception for my parents, but even this was painful to be around, as I watched them slowly diminish into a shadow of their former selves.
The more I run away from it, the more it followed me, until I was unable to escape its clutches.
So I faced what I feared most. Volunteering with people who are incapacitated, elderly, and some who were at the end of their lives.
And something beautiful emerged from all the ugliness that I perceived it to be.
I watched in admiration the beauty of letting go, of not caring to make an impression, of absolute and utter authenticity in ways that I had never experienced before. Of course, these qualities are uttered by every coach on their Facebook lives; they preach we should be more authentic, let go and just be yourself.
But to see people truly living it under the most trying conditions, without having to do a Facebook live about it, is something else.
I learnt that nothing really does matter, and we should stop sweating the small stuff.
Imagine how much stress, anxiety and anger would we save ourselves if we stopped making everything matter? These feelings would be made redundant, obsolete, no longer of value in our lives.
The important thing is to behave as if YOU matter, and make more of a difference in the world, but the nitty gritty of life does not matter.
Holocaust Survivor Victor Frankl in his book ‘Mans search for meaning’ stated:
A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”
Meaning is derived from being of service to others, behaving as if we matter and allowing the soul to have a platform to exert its need.
If you liked this article, you can read more chapters like these in my latest book ‘Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living’ available now on Amazon.
If you want to connect with me to share insights from this article, send an e-mail to [email protected]