As the end of my semester comes to a close, I am starting to feel the pressure. The stress. The anxiety. It’s building up. I am trying to find time to just wind down, space out, and not feel so focused so that I don’t completely lose it. It’s hard to find the balance between totally frying my brain and just relaxing. In seminary we learned that you can’t just “space out”. We were here for a purpose, and tuning out isn’t going to help us accomplish anything. But I digress.
A video recently went viral that has made me rethink my values and goals. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this and watch:
I first saw Clouds and affect on me. Watching Zach struggle with cancer and still be able to maintain such an uplifting and positive attitude was inspiring. As he says in the video, “You don't have to find out you're dying to start living.” Life is challenging. No one questions that. But to tune out and turn off is simply letting yourself succumb and in succumbing, you won’t succeed. Sometimes we forget how closely those two states are:
Watching this video, I am reminded of my own mortality. Zach knew that he had an expiration date on his. Less than a year or so. Me? It could be today. Tomorrow. (Hopefully, 120) I don’t know. In one of my psychology classes, we were discussing death. I, in all innocence (ok, mischeif), asked, “Why are people afraid to die?” The teacher responded, “In this classroom we could have many different reasons for each person!” I wanted to know what they were. Uncharacteristically of the class, everyone raised their hands to give their answers. Answers varied from “not having enough time,” “having to say goodbye,” “the actual moment,” “not acoomplishing everything I wanted to.”
It was intense and overwhelming. We spend so much time avoiding these kinds of conversations. When I tell people about my career choice, working with children with terminal illnesses, they cringe. Is it because of the sadness of working with a sick child or because they know they have to face their own mortality? I would venture to say it is a bit of both, but I am of the opinion that the work I will do will provide joy into that dark world and brighten an otherwise terrible situation. When you focus on living, REALLY living, death is merely just the next challenge. To quote: “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Zach embraced this. By writing and singing his songs, he left his legacy for people to learn from. Seforim epitomize this concept. The author may have passed on, but his memory is carried on forever. When we remember him, it is not for the tragedy of his death, but for the legacy of his life.
So the question is, with every challenge we must face, what legacy will you leave behind? How will you be remembered? What sort of life will you live, so that when people think of you, they think of your accomplishments and success?