Value. It’s such a small word with big meaning.
I was originally writing a post about what people might say about you after you’re gone, which was inspired by a rather scathing obituary that recently made the news. Not because it was about someone of celebrity, or that it was beautifully expressed. But, because of the powerful, painful punch it packed in very few words. “She will not be remembered…” were the words said about a woman who had abandoned her children, by her now-adult children.
Susan Soper, author of the book, Obit Kit, and writer of many an obituary, says this is a more common thing that you might think, vengeance-driven obituaries.
It got me thinking about what people might say about me after I’m gone, hopefully a few decades from now. As part of an exercise in some coursework I recently completed to become a breathwork facilitator, we were asked to write our eulogies, as if someone was reading it today. It was pretty eye opening.
It wasn’t necessarily the accomplishments or successes that I felt compelled to include, but rather characteristics and relationships are what rose to the surface. It struck me that what I wanted said about me was something like: “She lived a life of value by giving meaningful value to others.”
I mean, the truth is you have no control over what someone says about you. What they say has more to do with their experience of you than anything else. However, projecting what you would want your epitaph to be, or the consensus on your behalf after your gone, then having a say today in what you want that epitaph to be gives you some direction, a mission, for how you want to live your life. What’s said then, is a reflection of what and who you are leading up to your eventual life exit.
What would your epitaph be if someone wrote it today? Does it differ from what you aspire it to be?
Then, the news came out about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. And, it shook me, particularly as it was on the heels of Kate Spade’s death by suicide.
They both brought such value and beauty into people’s lives by what they produced in their own. I watched a CNN special about Anthony Bourdain and the love came pouring in about how he impacted people.
Then, a comment in an interview with a friend of his gave me pause: “He always said he has lots of friendships that only lasted a week,” which while a function of his job, perhaps shed a stronger light, according to this friend. Perhaps, he didn’t have many deep, intimate, soulful relationships.
Certainly, I would never trivialize the inner demons or mental health issues that drove Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade to end their lives, by suggesting anything trite that might have “helped”. What they experienced or felt is something beyond my understanding.
But, what it did for me was to start to more closely examine what a life of value truly means to me. And, for me, it’s going intrinsically into that value. In other words, focusing on deeper, more intimate connections with the important people in my life, deeper connection to myself and then to the cosmic and karmic connection to “one”, that is all in nature.
Perhaps there’s a level of this that you can relate to. We all want to matter, to have meaning and to give meaning. It’s the very basis of humanity. It’s easy to stray from that simple thought when we’re pushed and pulled by all that’s going on in the world right now. But, it starts and ends with your own intrinsic value.
These are some guideposts I’m rededicating to, which I know will help me to fulfill my living epitaph.
- Be generous
- Be honest & forthright
- Be aware of changes in behaviors of loved ones and have direct conversations about it
- Be available
- Be grateful
- Be responsive & communicative
- Be assertive in my desire for connection
- Be transparent when asking for help when I need it
- Be diligent in my self-care: sleep, meditation, prayer, exercise, healthy food - creating inner strength that will guide through difficult times
Add value to other’s experiences. And, receive value from others when it’s offered.
It’s reciprocity. It’s kindness. It’s humanity.
That’s value. Intrinsic. Life-affirming value.