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What Dies With You?

“Imagine if you will being on your death bed – And standing around your bed – the ghosts of the ideas, the dreams, the abilities, the talents given to you by life.

And that you for whatever reason, you never acted on those ideas, you never pursued that dream, you never used those talents, we never saw your leadership, you never used your voice, you never wrote that book.

And there they are standing around your bed looking at you with large angry eyes saying we came to you, and only you could have given us life! Now we must die with you forever.

The question is – if you die today what ideas, what dreams, what abilities, what talents, what gifts, would die with you? ” – Les Brown

You may have heard a version of this in a Denzel Washington commencement speech with something like 40 million views, but the framework for this story is older than that, and as far as I can tell, Les Brown was the first to tell it. And honestly, his version flows better than Denzel’s, and thus quotes better.

I’ve been thinking about this lately myself. Whether to keep blogging or focus on the bigger writing I want to do. Whether to travel and explore to the level I want to or defer until some undefined, unlikely time in the future. Asking myself, what do you finish when you don’t have an infinite lifetime?

Questions demand answers. Most of us distract ourselves from thinking about these things. Our lives are filled with white noise and busywork, but eventually we need to reckon with our ghosts.

What dreams, abilities, talents and gifts will die with you? We can’t do everything in life, but surely we can do more. So what will you bring to life before you go?

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2 Comments

  1. Need to dwindle that list down to achievable priorities. That’s your first priority. It can take years, so stick with it! Back in my twenties, when I didn’t ponder in the depth as we now think of these issues, I had set a goal to climb Denali by the time I hit 35. I didn’t stay with that goal, and perhaps needless to say, no regrets, but life had another direction. Ten years ago I figured a way to restart, not with Denali of course, but combining new goals while compromising on others. So far I’m still on track, and the bonus is a wonderful partnership! Set those limited achievable priorities!

    1. Life is a mix of prioritization, realization and compromise. The ratio between each determines how satisfying the ride ultimately is

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