I attended the funeral of a dear friend this weekend. He was only 3 years older than me.
In addition to the loss felt by the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one, there is the stark reminder of impermanence. It got me thinking about what really matters most.
As another week begins, I asked myself how I would answer the question, "what mattered most", at the end of my life.
Here's what came up for me:
Did I welcome everyone and everything?
This speaks to how open-minded and open-hearted I was in my interactions with the people, places and things I came into contact with each day.
How well was I able to suspend judgment and assumptions? How gracefully did I respond to situations that were uninvited in my life?
If I were to give myself a grade, I wouldn't be looking for perfection. Instead, I would focus on my intention for meeting people where they are, extending a little grace, and being willing to learn from my mistakes.
Did I empower those around me?
One thing that is very important to me is to remind others (and myself) that we have choice. In each moment of each day.
In every breath we take...on the inhale and the exhale.
Even when it seems like we don't have any options.
We always can control how we show up and respond to what life brings our way. That is up to us.
We can make decisions from a place of courage and confidence and strength.
The decision to speak up. The decision to let go. The decision to say no.
This is not to say that making those decisions are easy. But, they are yours to make.
Did I love fiercely and compassionately?
Love. It is such a simple word and yet so charged for so many.
I want to love unconditionally. I want to love hard and with abandon. I want those around me to feel my love.
And maybe, to feel that depth of love for themselves, if only for a few moments.
Love is such a powerful force. In my opinion, one of the most powerful forces that we have control over.
Love yourself. Love other people. Love all sentient beings everywhere.
Did I light the way for others?
One of my regular practices is to see the light in myself and in others. I say this is a practice, because it sometimes feels difficult to see the light in someone that causes harm to others.
When this is the case, I imagine the person as a young child (as a pediatrician I have a huge soft spot for children). This helps me to become curious about why they may be showing up as they are. It ignites compassion in me which opens my heart and allows me to see them in a different light...to actually see their light.
I want to live my life in such a way that others want to see the light in others. And I want to reflect their own light back to them. Because in all honesty, it's usually much harder for us to see the light in ourselves.
We are so hard on ourselves. And unkind. I think it's a precious gift to help others see their own light and in doing so, it helps us to pull back the veil so that we can see a glimpse of our own light.
So at the end of my life, I want to know for sure that
I was welcoming
I was empowering
I was loving
I was lighting the way
That mine was a life WELL lived.
What matters most to you? I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on this for yourself.
And allow the answers to inform the work that you do every day - not just in your vocation, but in the way you choose to show up to live each day.
I'd love to hear what matters to you. Share in the comments below or drop me a line, Michelle@drmichellebailey.com.
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