How Would You Like To Be Remembered
In my workshops on Engage Mastery, I get participants to imagine they are dead and their souls are at their own funeral. I then asked them to picture the people who attends their funeral. What would those people say about them and how would they like to be remembered?
What words would people describe you? Would they call you a dear friend? Or are they happy that you are dead, friend?
I usually get either one of two responses from participants. Some felt this was an effective exercise as it forces them to list down words to describe who they really are (or want to be). Others felt it was good but pointed out that my facilitation of the process was too morbid for them.
Either way, I’d thank them for sharing their thoughts and I’d then share with them about my own encounter with death.
I Finally Have A Brother
My parents had always wanted another child. They tried for years, seeking help from western doctors to Chinese physicians, and even Taoist mediums. Yes, that’s how bad they wanted.
My parents finally managed to have another baby when I was 12 years old. Being 12 years apart, meant that my brother and I are both of the same Chinese zodiac sign. That meant a lot to me as I used to think of myself the big rat and my brother the little rat (we are both born in the Year of the Rat).
When my brother was born, naturally my parents turned their attention to him. Besides, I was already 12 years old and was already rather independent. However, being the only child for 11 years, I was unhappy about the lost of attention. I was jealous of my brother. Sometimes, I would take away his toys or even pinch him when my parents were not looking. I remembered once my mom caught me pinching him and I was given a good trashing.
My First Encounter With Death
One day, when he was about 18 months old, my mom found him unresponsive in his cot and his eyes were crossed. Sensing something was wrong, she rushed him to the usual clinic. When the doctor saw my brother’s condition, he told my mom to send him to the hospital immediately. After the doctors checked him, they gave my parents the worst news ever. My brother was diagnosed with brain tumor with only 50 percent chance of living, even with surgery.
Their joy turned into sorrow. My mom would sit by his bedside every day at the hospital. Waiting for him to regain consciousness after the surgery or to feed and console him when he cried. After his second surgery, his condition improved. My parents were relieved and thought they might be hope that he could survive this ordeal. However, that relief was short-lived when several days later, his condition deteriorated and he passed away on my mom’s Chinese birthday.
Needless to say, my mom was heartbroken and my dad was crestfallen. I was, however, confused.
Death Comes To All
I didn’t know, until that time, that even babies can die. I’ve always thought that everyone will live till a ripe old age. My maternal great grandmother lived till 99 years old and both my maternal and paternal grandparents lived past 70 years old.
I really couldn’t fathom what was happening.
After my maternal grandmother explained to me, I began to understand that anyone can die at any age, young and old. Natural or otherwise.
Matthew’s death had such an impact on me that it has changed the way I view life and how I behave.
My wife tells me that I am always in a state of anxiety. That I should learn to relax and take things easy. However, it is not that I don’t want but truly it is because I understand how fragile life can be. Like how an innocent, active, and intelligent 18 month old child can be robbed of his life so early on.
It is not that I want to be anxious but truly there are things you and I have no control over. And so we must recognize what we have control over and seize the opportunities as we see it, when we see it.
For those of you who knows me personally or worked with me, allow me to say this: if there was ever a situation where I was anxious and that annoyed you, I ask for your forgiveness. It was not you but because of who I am and how I view life.
That said, in the words of the late Steve Jobs, I’d like you to remember this:
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Action: Right now. Take out your journal and write down your vision in the personal area of your life. While you are at it, write down also your vision in the people and professional areas of your life.
Do it. Right now.