Life and Death...what does it all mean?

Life and Death…what does it all mean?

I had the unfortunate task this evening of attending a viewing/reception for the grandson of a member of my Rotary Club. As president, I felt encumbered to attend, but it was more than simply that sense of duty…I wanted to be there for a fellow member. It wasn’t the first time our club has had a grandchild pass since I have been in the club, and each time is unique and sorrowful.

This young man was 29 years old and had been battling cancer for a few years. When I spoke with his father, who is a former member of our club, he described the last few years as very painful for his son…his only son. He told me the reality of the loss hadn’t quite hit him yet as he found himself going through the motions.

The son was living with his parents and last Friday, he was laying on the couch in the basement, watching a baseball game with the television remote in his hand when he drifted off to sleep…never to wake. The finality of death is something that we all must consider as we live our lives, but it is never easy to grasp…especially in one so young.

It is at times like this that we who remain tend to reflect on life and all that it entails. As we have come to learn, life is precious and fleeting. Though we have beliefs and theories as to what the future holds, in essence, death is unfamiliar territory for everyone, not matter how much a person believes he knows. In reality, it is all a fleeting belief. Death could be final with nothing but darkness…final.

As Christians, we believe in heaven and that tends to help people deal with the issues of death. I am not going to get into religion or the lack thereof in this post, but rather talk about the purpose and meaning of life. I am not a soothsayer who has all of the answers to life and death. Rather, I have an opinion (which like a…holes, we all have one) that I’d like to share.

To me, the meaning of life is to live it with zest and purpose. Live life on your terms. I have told my wife so many times that “life is too short to feel guilty”. She always says she feels guilty about this or that, but guilt limits your ability to enjoy your life. You have only been given one life…live it.

Many evenings you can find me with a glass of wine or scotch in my courtyard with a cigar and enjoying my life. I could be reading, writing, or simply staring at the stars. Whatever gives you pleasure (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone) should be how you spend your life.

In addition to living a life with zest, you should live it with a purpose. I cannot begin to tell you what your purpose should be, but you should find a purpose and fulfill it. For me, my purpose, aside from giving great customer service to my real estate clients, is to write and donate my time and resources to causes that I hold dear. This is one reason I have associated with and promote Rotary. It is an avenue for me to give of my time, talents and resources to a massive organization that is “Doing Good in the World”. What better purpose could you have?

It is no secret that when you give of yourself to help someone less fortunate, you will gain more from the experience then they will receive. I have traveled to Guatemala for a literacy project our club supports and the young children are so thankful for the assistance they are receiving with regards to their education and future earning potential due to a better education. At a couple of schools, we were mauled by the students asking for our autograph. It made you feel like a celebrity or a rock star, but in essence, it was their way of showing how much they appreciated our coming to their poor school to give them textbooks or computers.

There you have it…my wise (or not wise) wisdom on life. You don’t have to agree with me and its alright if you don’t. But in closing, the thing that wraps all of this together is the relationships and memories we gather over our life. Humans are a social species and we need to interact with others. We crave it…we desire it…we need it more than we need air or food. Sure, you can survive without others, but most people who live an isolated life begin to diminish mentally, losing their grasp on reality.  We need others…plan and simple.

Thanks for letting me vent and give my two-cents (I am accounting for inflation) on this subject that I doubt anyone is truly qualified to discuss, but everyone thinks they are an expert. That’s alright. I am the only one who can live my life, so it is fitting that I have my own theory on life…it goes for you as well. There is no perfect answer to the most difficult question to plaque the human race…the meaning of life!

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