Yesterday morning I saw someone I know on the train, and later passed him in the hallway. That afternoon he was on a stretcher, being lifted into an ambulance, suffering from a possible heart attack or stroke. We get wound up in our daily lives and little cares, and we are suddenly reminded of our fragile mortality.
I work in a law office downtown. Across the hallway is the district SBA office. They have a program called SCORE, which provides mentoring resources to small businesses. I have met with a SCORE counselor about Eternal Roots, and I am now working with SCORE to create a workshop for small business owners about legal concepts.
I commute downtown on the train, where I recently met a SCORE counselor, Jack. I started talking with him because our offices are right across the elevator lobby, and I am a small business owner myself. I showed Jack this website and solicited his feedback. We chatted about doing a law workshop at their facility. He is a nice guy with a warm personality. He introduced me to the director of workshops at SCORE, and they approved my curriculum. This will provide value to small businesses, while also being a resource for obtaining new clients. Jack opened that door for me.
Yesterday I saw Jack as we got off the train in the morning. He had a distant gaze in his eyes and didn't appear to see me. He seemed deep in his own thoughts, so I stayed a bit behind as we walked to the building. We crossed paths in the hallway later that morning, and he gave me a slight nod.
Around the noon hour I heard sirens outside, and saw a fire engine pull alongside my building. Sirens aren't an uncommon sound in downtown San Diego, and I didn't think much of it. An ambulance arrived moments later. I see homeless people getting picked up all the time, and figured there was an overdose (I've seen it before).
Yesterday afternoon I had a meeting with the SCORE director to review my curriculum. The mood was somber in the office, and the director said one of their counselors wasn't feeling well and was exhibiting symptoms consistent with a heart attack or stroke. He didn't feel up to taking the ride home, and they decided to call an ambulance. I asked if it was Jack, and he said yes. I offered to reschedule our meeting, but the director said we could proceed. During the meeting he recited Jack's feedback as we reviewed my curriculum.
I don't know Jack's prognosis. All I know is he was at work one moment, being carried out on a stretcher the next. I'm sure he had things on his mind, like the election or a to-do list, and the next instant he's solely focused on survival. Should he pull through, his life will be forever changed. Jack provided insight on this business and he helped me with my law practice, and never sought anything in return. He may or may not be alive today.
When something like this happens, you have to take a moment to reflect on your own mortality. Our time on this rock is short, and we need to make the most of our lives. I recently finished an audio book by Les Brown, called The Power of Purpose. If you haven't heard of him, definitely check it out. Les asked you to imagine receiving a terminal diagnosis, like a month, six months, or a year. If you knew you had a time certain left to live, what would you do with that time? Why not live your life right now as if you knew you had limited time left? We've all heard the expression that we should live each day like it's our last, but none of us do, and we prefer not to think about it and pretend we're immortal. Les caused me to ask that uncomfortable question of myself - what would I do if I knew I had six months to live? I thought if I preserved as many life stories as possible, asked the best questions and created the best products for families to cherish, then I could leave a positive mark on the world. That would be more meaningful than giving legal advice. Forget jumping out of planes and traveling to Paris - I would rather preserve your life story.
I now ask this question of you - if you knew you had six months to live, what would you do with that time? We don't all have the luxury of quitting a job, blowing through our savings/retirement and traveling the world, but what would you do with your time, given your current means? Would you keep working that job? Would you stay in that relationship? Would you mend fences with someone? Would you change or accomplish something, or would your life stay exactly the same?
Imagine what you could accomplish if you lived your life with the intensity and urgency of someone who had six months to live. Then do it.
About the Blog
Here I write about the evolution of this project, the act of preserving life stories and personal development. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.