When Death is a Hugger with Open Arms
Updated: May 28, 2019
It wasn't that it was the first time I'd heard someone say "this may be the best thing that could ever happen to me" when life coaching a client or in every day conversations with people. It was this conversation that pulled me into really looking at why it takes looking directly into death's reminding eyes to get there. "There" being "the best thing."
It was my fourth or fifth call with this client. The first call was typical for a new, budding relationship. Often we're like two dogs sniffing each others butts, pleasantly sniffing out a common trust with our typical human cautiousness. Then we got rolling into him wanting to exercise more, be healthier and just make time for himself. Okay then. Cool!
This client's attention was a bit all over the place when it came to his goals so when he didn't show up for his every-other week session, it wasn't atypical. We rescheduled and when we talked a month later (that fourth or fifth call I was referring to)...everything that came before this conversation literally flew out the window. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "What has been happening with your self-care and the goals you agreed to?"
Client: "Well, I haven't really been focused on that now. A lot has happened since last time we talked. I randomly was at the doctor due to not feeling well and I found out that I am HIV positive so I've had to start on medication and going to group therapy sessions. That's kinda taken over my life.
Me: "How are you doing with this news?"
Client: "Well, at first I was scared......
(Cut to me thinking "what do you mean at first??!! It's not even been a month?!!")
Client continued: and panicked a bit about what I was going to do and how I was going to tell my family. I'm feeling okay with the news now and I realized that this might be the best thing that could ever happen to me."
There it was.
That phrase again.
I've talked with newly diagnosed cancer patients - "this might be the best thing that could ever happen to me."
News of M.S. - "this might be the best thing that could ever happen to me."
A recent car accident - "this might be....."
Most of us understand this phrase at a certain level because we are humans (I'm assuming you are if you are reading this). We understand that somehow....at some point...a strange set of human priorities and obligations started to take over our lives. Priorities and obligations we didn't ask for but...we believed them and didn't question if they even made sense when it came to actually being happy. Most still don't question them. As we grow older, expectations that label us "responsible" start to grow over us like a costume until we can't recognize who we are or what we want anymore, if we ever knew in the first place.
We work hard to find a path that feels comfortable and set. We also become bored of the "comfortable" and "set" as it's too predictable. Some medicate. Some keep too busy. Some dive into work, mold a perfect body, sex, food, caffeine, competition, talking and moving too much. ALL to medicate the "comfortable" and "set" boredom...without having to make really scary changes. Like stopping for once. Or being sober. Or quiet. We fear that if we stop, we aren't effective and if we aren't effective, we're basically dead. We fear everything changing and we fear it all staying the same. We fear so much we're actually already dead in the first place.
Most of us when asked the big life question of "what do you want?" we answer with "to be happy." When asked what happiness looks like, most of us can't actually answer that. If we do, we answer with something like "well, winning the lottery would be nice!" (haha! and blah blah! - not very original, sorry). Not many of us would mind winning the lottery, but keep breaking it down. What would winning the lottery do?
It would bring you freedom.
Freedom from what?
Maybe all of those priorities, obligations and expectations that we locked ourselves into. Because we believed them. And didn't question them. Even if they never made sense in the first place, at least when it came to our individual path to happiness and freedom. Because that path is actually individual. Not set. Could be uncomfortable.
A handshake with looming death often frees us right away. Of predicatble expectations. Those crunchy obligations. Those tight priorities. Death reminds us that you may have never questioned what you weren't truly enjoying in the first place, and that if you are lucky, you still have a little more time to do just that. Death can often be unpredictable which is something that we most of us need. But instead of being unpredictable ourselves, we just...wait for it. Most wait until the very end and leave this life as we've known it with hungry....starving regret.
In "Tiny Bugs" the first single and story on "Now. Secrets of a lifecoach" storytelling album, I wrote this for all of us who never learned how to be happy now before you feel obligated to go to the doctor with what you believe is just a tiny...little bug you need medication for, so you can be well on your way to your next priority. How might the priorities change if you instead leave the doctor's office with a prescription of about one year left to live?
If you answer that right now with "this may be the best thing that could ever happen to me".........it might be time to listen to something else in your life.
*Download my human experience audio series "Now. Secrets of a Lifecoach" on Amazon or iTunes for more stories. This is THE human experience soundtrack.