I’ve spent the past two months reading cover to cover Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You’re Meant to Live . I’ve been captivated by crazy talented makers from all over the world, basking in their creative passion, determination, vision and ethos to build lives they cherish by the talent of their hands and vision of heart.
In one of the profiles, I found a quote that I’ve been reading most days as a way to remind me, much like Buddhist monks who contemplate death (and living fully) by sitting in a morgue, that this life has an expiration date. Remembering we are all headed towards our own ending is a helpful nudge toward making the most of the time we have.
I find as I creep day by day nearer this final passage, (barring any unwelcome surprises that might deliver me sooner), thinking about what I still hope to accomplish and experience-what I wish for is the fire to make it happen. This quote from Apple icon, Steve Jobs is one such ember:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything-all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure-these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
My heart consistently points me toward achievements and experiences bigger than what I feel equipped to handle, larger than I can accomplish. Maybe you too, have a heart with dreams and wishes that daunt you, but that won’t give you peace until you at least take them seriously, attempt to make something of them.
In that case, let me offer my dear poet John O’Donohue (who himself left this world at the tender age of 52) as another voice to turn to when clear and deep wisdom is needed. I’ll leave you with his words on courage just in case you need them, and wish for you the joys of a life full of what you came to live for.
When the light around lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as a stone inside,
When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen,
When one voice commands
Your whole heart,
And it is raven dark,
Steady yourself and see
That it is your own thinking
That darkens your world.
Search and you will find
A diamond-thought of light,
Know that you are not alone,
And that this darkness has purpose;
Gradually it will school your eyes,
To find the one gift your life requires
Hidden within this night-corner.
Invoke the learning
Of every suffering
You have suffered.
Close your eyes.
Gather all the kindling
About your heart
To create one spark
That is all you need
To nourish the flame
That will cleanse the dark
Of its weight of festered fear.
A new confidence will come alive
To urge you towards higher ground
Where your imagination
will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!