When it’s time to say goodbye, “What Will Matter.”

“What Will Matter” by Michael Josephson

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

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It’s not on the Menu

I am handed menus to choose from everyday.  I am not just speaking of restaurant menus.   I make choices off of social menus, political menus, fitness menus, activity menus, friendship menus, behavior menus, relationship menus…but what if what I want isn’t on the menu at all?  Can I still order what I want.  Can I ask for something off the menu?  I say YES!

I have just sat down for breakfast at “Rosie’s” Cafe in  Tahoe City.  I know what I want before I look at the menu, Oatmeal with fruit.  I don’t expect Oatmeal with fruit to be on the menu, but I figure I can combine a bowl of fruit and bowl of oatmeal. to get what I want.  On the menu I see a bowl of Oatmeal is $3.99 and a bowl of fruit is $4.99.  $9 for a bowl of oatmeal with some fruit on it?!!!

While reading the menu I also notice the “Oatmeal Swedish Pancakes”.  Their tasty description notes that they are topped with “applesauce, sour cream and lingonberries.” Ummm.  That sounds good.  I’m guessing that if the toppings taste good on Oatmeal pancakes, they will also taste good on Oatmeal…but of course…that combo is not on the menu and will take some creative ordering to get.

When the waiter comes and asks if I know what I want I say confidently, “Yes and I am hoping you will be able to make it for me.”  I hear the groans of my 17-year-old son and can feel his eyes rolling into the back of his head, “Here she goes again!”

I tell the waiter politely that I’d like a bowl of oatmeal with the toppings from the Oatmeal Pancakes.  He blinks his eyes and looks at me quizzically.  I explain.  “I’d like to have oatmeal topped with applesauce, sour cream and lingonberries, just like the Oatmeal Pancakes.  Will you do that for me?”  He stares at me some more, mumbles something which has an affirmative but questioning tone to it, but then writes my request down.  I thank him and tell him how happy this will make me.  He smiles.

5 minutes later my oatmeal comes with 3 little bowls of my toppings.  I pay $3.99 for the oatmeal, and $1.50 for the toppings.  $ 5.5o total. What a deal.  I get exactly what I want and I don’t get ripped off!

After eating this morning I had an epiphany.   Life is full of menu’s.  Social norms, activity choices, reigning opinions, presiding options.  Some of them are easier to spot… there are Political Party Menus,  Religion Menus, Measures of Success menus, Education menus, Relationship menus, etc…

Guess what…the restaurant isn’t the only place I usually don’t find what I want on the menu I’m handed!  I’m lucky enough to usually have clarity about what I want.  What I am learning is that not only is it ok to order off the menu but it actually works pretty damn well!

Guess what happens when I order what I want!  #1 The people around me whom I communicate with actually know what I want.  It’s crazy how many times I would not ask for what I wanted because I it wasn’t being offered and I was embarrassed, ashamed, didn’t think I deserved it, whatever…and then I would get mad at someone for not knowing me and not knowing what I really want.  Guess what…people can’t read you mind!  I swear!

#2  The people who care for me learn and eventually are learning to accept who I really am!  It’s amazingly freeing to be completely open and honest about my needs, desires and my choices.

#3  Other people take notice and realize that maybe the menu they have been handed doesn’t actually contain all the workable options either.  They start asking for stuff off the menu.  The world and the menu’s start to change!

#4  I am learning to accept and learn rather than judge.  Giving myself permission to order off the menu has meant ceasing to judge myself and beginning to know and accept myself.  This has led to accepting others.  It’s awesome…the I stopped judging myself, I stopped judging others and started learning from them!

#5  I have gained confidence.  The more I ask for what I want, regardless of whether it’s on the menu or not, the more clarity I have for what I want, and the more confidence I get sharing who I am with others.

#5  I GET WHAT I WANT!  ok, so not all the time, but at least I know I have a chance.  When I didn’t ask for what I wanted, I rarely got anything close to what I wanted!

The funny thing is, I have found, whether people get my reasoning or not, they are usually happy to give me what I have asked for, are grateful that I have been honest with them and grateful they can give something truly meaningful to me.

Letting others know what you want empowers them in their relationship with you!  What I am learning is that empowered humans are loving,  generous, and want to create a community which supports its members.

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Way #6 Eating one “Cutie” for Your Whole Life

For most of my life I have believed I am a “Taurus”.  Not that I give much credit to Horoscopes and Signs…but taurus actually did speek to many qualities I know about myself…especially the “bull”, the one with a skull of steel who charges in head first ignoring and not caring that the result of such a charge is often a huge lump on my head.

But there are also qualities about the taurus that have never rung true for me, one in particular stands out…GARDENING!  Taurus is an earth sign its members are supposedly great gardeners, magicians with those green thumbs of theirs.  I, on the other hand, have noticed that the mere act of me walking by a plant may results in it’s demise.

But wait!  According to the new horoscope system I am not actually a taurus but an ARIES.  Ahhh, fire…still a ram (hard headed and bullish), but flaming, imetuous, passionate fire.  Yep. That’s me. Maybe that explains why most of the plants I take care of end up looking like they have been torched rather than nurtured.

But what does my lack of gardening skills have to do with eating ONE cutie for my whole life?

Well, see, what happens when you plant a fruit seed (you, not me, that is) is that a beautiful fruit tree emerges.  That beautiful tree bares fruit, some of which will in turn grow to be beautiful fruit trees themselves.  And so, in the end, perhaps every fruit comes from one shared source… and that is how we can eat one “Cutie” for our whole lives.  Each fruit is an integral player and can be perceived as the beginning, middle or end of the cycle of life.

And seeds….they come from more than trees and plants.  Seeds come from acts of kindness (or trechery), love (or despair).   Seeds are spread through our love, our energy, our thoughts.  Each moment in our life contains an infinity of seeds (possibilities).   Many will germinate and grow and reproduce and change the world in ways we will never know or understand.

I may not have the best gardening history when it comes to plants…but I am a master gardener in other ways.  We all are.  By planting seeds of love, kindness and acceptence I will grow trees of love, kindess and acceptance.  If I nurture these trees, and carefully tend to them, their fruits will germinate, so that they too may grow and produce fruit.   I will soon find myself living in a garden abundant with the most nourishing fruits of life…and I will truly be able to eat and share the fruits of those original seeds for the rest of my life.

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Water is power…the power to clear my spirit, my mind, all my confusion.

I used to play with the ocean as a child.  It was a living being for me (still is really), who I could tease and dance with…a powerful protector…who knew me well and would wrap me in its arms and wash away my tears when I was sad…who would play tag with me when I was happy…who would lift me and throw me in fun…and all the time knowing that my playmate was a loving yet dangerous playmate, who could easily swallow me in its vigorous play, and the thrill was invigorating.

Nothing could reflect my soul as well as the life of water in constant motion, whether it be a river or an ocean…never what it seems on the surface…though not consiously deceptive, merely incredibly complex.

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I have been able to fly for as long as I can remember.
There have been times in my life when I have soared like an eagle Across the infinite landscape of my life,
And times when I have run,
Unable to lift myself off the ground which held me firm,
No matter how fast I ran.
There have been times when I have forgotten that I ever could fly.
But it always comes back.
And I find myself once again,
Through skyscapes,
Into endless valleys
Cresting over mountains,
Deep blue oceans,
And yes,
Even into the stars themselves
I fly.

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I am alone now
Always alone
It’s what I want
Don’t want to go home
I am home
Just me

Place me on a mountain top
Face me in the strongest wind
Blast me with snow
And hail
Throw all the elements at me
I will be there
I will be strong
Anything but love

Place me in your heart
Climb into mine
I am lost
Love’s pain is so immense
It engulfs me in soft slow agony
Complete Joy
Complete Beauty
Complete Loneliness

In my fathers arms
A ghost which never held me close
A spirit which gave me
Freedom, bliss, the everlasting, letting go
Too hard to know
Too hard to feel

In mother’s eyes
Perfection in another direction
Possibilities unbound
Too hard to feel
Too hard to know

Never there as I am aware
Why must it hurt so
Why must it hurt so
Too hard to know
Too hard to Feel
Don’t want to go home
Want to be alone
I am home

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My List

One of the first questions which came to me when I decided to prepare for my death during this following year – was what do I want to do with my life?  I only have a year…what will I change?  What habits will I abandon.  What practices will I pick up?  What do I want to learn?  To achieve?   How do I want to spend my time?  What do I want to get rid of?  What do I want to bring into my life?  … Well the list could keep going couldn’t it.  It all comes down to one important question…what really matters to me?  My answer is clear – love and connection.  Anything which brings and awareness of love into my life, and which creates a deep connection with life, is worth my time.

Here is the beginning of my list – the questions I have asked myself and my answers today.  I know the list will grow, and change, that’s fine.  I’m in flow, and the river does not fret about where or how it’s been.  It is always where it is.

Will I…

Meditate every day? Yes
Do yoga every day? No (well not the physical aspect)
Exercise every day? Mostly
Go outside every day? YES!
Continue to color my hair? Yes
Get breast implants? No – but…I’m not so sure…if would be totally cool to experience what life would be life in that type of body…and if the future health implications were not a concern… But I certainly would not spend any of my money on it…so I guess that does make it a pretty definite no.
Fix my toes? No
Fix my body? No
Heal myself? YES! my approach to healing will be holistic
Tell those I love that love them every day? YES!
See friends I have lost touch with, redevelop those friendships? YES
Be open about my feelings? Yes
Love without fear, or despite it? YES
Tell H I love him? Yes
Get a tatoo? No
Allow connection with everyone I come near? Yes
Keep Liam in school? Yes
Travel? Yes and no. This is a big shocker. I always thought, if I had been given a death sentence, the first thing I would want to do is pull all roots and travel the world. I realize now, this would be so unimportant to me. I am more interested deeply discovering what I have here and now than scratching the surface of anything new.
Write every day? Yes
Forgive Bill and let go of judgement? Yes
Love Liam and give him everything I have to give, and not worry changing things? Yes
Creating new connections with new people? Yes
Get a pet? No
Work? No (as little as possible and only if it creates connection)
Volunteer? Yes
Write a book? Yes
Go to all my son’s baseball games? No
Be completely open and honest? Yes
Get at least 7 hours of sleep a day? Yes
Keep my house clean? Yes
Worry? No

Watch TV? No, not much
Watch Movies? Rarely
Develop my spirituality? Yes
Learn to play an instrument? Yes
Eat ice cream every day? No
Eat clean balanced food? Yes
Take care of my body however I need to create and maintain health and vitality? Yes

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