My message to the world
This week, as I’m undergoing studies to rule out a cancer recurrence, I reflect on my life. If I knew these were my last days (or years) on Earth, what message would I like to send to my children, my loved ones and the world?
1-Life is Too Short to Be Where You’re Not One-hundred-percent Sure You Want to Be.
Don’t make the mistake I made in the first decades of my life. Don’t disconnect from your inner truth, numbing yourself to the pain and the longings inside you.
Become a constant interrogator to yourself. Ask yourself questions frequently: Are you happy? Is your smile sincere today? How are you really feeling? Are you exactly in the place where you want to be? Are you surrounded by exactly the people you want to be with? Are you doing exactly what you want to do?
If the answer is “No,” don’t waste time! Take action, move on, walk toward the lighthouse. Listen to your own inner voice.
2-Only Love is Real, and It’s the Answer to All Questions.
If all your actions are guided by love, you don’t need to memorize laws or commandments. Someone who loves truly doesn’t steal, doesn’t lie or cheat, doesn’t murder…
If all your relationships are guided by true love, you don’t need to read self-help books or memorize laws of politeness. Someone who truly loves doesn’t commit infidelity, doesn’t insult, doesn’t control or manipulate.
And the operative word is REAL LOVE. Real love (as opposed to codependency or selfish need) has respect built in. True love doesn’t try to impose opinions on others. True love accepts others unconditionally, without demanding they change.
But also, Real Love includes self-love. It would never enable the loved one by tolerating mistreatment. True Love knows that sometimes, the most loving thing you can do for someone who’s hurting you, is to step away and love them from a distance.
3-Life only makes sense if you believe in something bigger than yourself
Call it God, The Universe, Spirit, your Higher Power…Call it whatever you want.
Sometimes, the idea of living only for a handful of years (whether that is fifty or a hundred) seems absurd. What is that, compared to the millions of years Earth has existed? Certainly, it only makes sense to believe that my life didn’t begin the day I was conceived and won’t end the day I die.
When I fret about death, I remind myself of the words I wrote for my book Bouncing Back: A Manual for Joy:
“Remember, this is just a vacation trip. We are not our bodies. We’re souls that temporarily put on a spacesuit of flesh to come to this adventure. And at the end of the journey, we take off our suits and return home. We might feel some nostalgia about what we leave behind, and we certainly may feel a little sad that our vacation is coming to an end. But we’re mostly happy because we’re going home.”
In the long-term, having faith is the only way to live.
Bonus lesson: Losing the fear of death
Trying to wrap our brains around death is “troubling our pretty little minds.” Let’s focus on Life instead.
Every supportive evidence I’ve found about life after death is encouraging—but it’s also all theoretical exercise: Doesn’t it seem absurd that this bright consciousness I am, able to encompass the whole universe in a thought, would be around only for a handful of years? When I think of my departed loved ones—my mother, my father, my grandma—don’t I vividly feel they’re not really gone? Doesn’t my love for those who’ve left before me keep flowing? And don’t I clearly feel that love is going somewhere, being received and returning to me, making me feel it is not true that they’ve ceased to exist?
So no, we don’t know exactly what will happen after death. But I have noticed that I live the most peaceful and joyful life when I choose to believe that death is not the end, even if I have no clue what comes afterward. Is there a literal heaven with pearly gates and angels singing? Is there a pleasure-filled paradise where we eat everything we want without gaining weight and download all the knowledge we always craved from celestial libraries? Do we all go to sleep and only wake up at the time of the final judgment? Is there literal reincarnation? Does our ego just disappear, and we become blissful, mindless energy flowing through every molecule of the multiverses?
I don’t know. But my trip here is much more enjoyable when I don’t allow nihilistic thoughts to spoil it.
And just in case what happens after death is something completely different from the pleasures of the flesh, I will remind myself every day to treasure every bit of my human experience.