A relative of mine died recently. Aside from the sadness and sense of loss, death puts a mirror of our own mortality to our faces. As we age, learning to deal with the grim reaper becomes a bigger and bigger issue.
I have to admit, I don’t get — nor like — this “death thing,” so I seek denial that it could be me next. I’m convinced he began that morning as he did so many others, yet that day ended so horribly different. Surely, there must have been a warning — a sign, giving him room to avoid the outcome. I look for understanding, a meaning, solace. I’m embarrassed to say I even blame him for not avoiding it; maybe he set himself up for it. Understand, I am trying to do something — anything — to avoid the reality that I, Scott Marcus, 62 years on planet Earth, writer, speaker, friend of many, father of two, lover of one, just might not have all the tomorrows I need either. We convince ourselves that there is always another sunrise over the horizon. Yet, as my grandmother said so many times, “Tomorrow never comes.”
When fear goes unchallenged, it becomes cement, weighing heavily on our souls; we hunch down our shoulders and grovel in whisper-like tones to the universe. As Oliver Twist said, holding his now empty bowl of gruel, with a voice tiny and meek, “Please sir, more...” We hold out frail trembling hands and beg for more time, unsure we are deserving but wanting and needing it so desperately. I’ll be good. Please don’t take it away from me.
During however many revolutions around the sun we have, we are essentially faced with one main choice: embrace love or cower in fright. After all, we each begin and end this journey in the same fashion; traveling similar paths; ups, downs, lots of middles. How we view ourselves and that passage is what really makes the difference.
Yet, it’s not easy to shut off the panic, and as much as I don’t like it, I guess it is OK to be frightened. There is a reason for it; it has kept me from danger many times. But fear is an adviser, not a master. We must make the ultimate decisions for our lives. “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the overcoming.” Fear is only one voice in a chorus I consult regularly. The others speak too: Love, Faith, Happiness, Joy, Excitement. They beg to be heard.
My relative’s loss need not be an excuse to hunker down and pull back; rather it must be the catalyst to move forward forcefully and embrace all that I am — and all that I am not. Carl Rogers said, “What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.” When I allow love to be my guide, I can challenge my gremlins, holding higher my head. I physically stand taller and speak more clearly. I am bursting with the energy that is life, better for it — as is everyone I touch.
Obviously, I don’t know what the future will bring — or even if I have one. Therefore, it makes sense that I must grab the Now tightly and give thanks for what I have in it, today, in this moment. My first and last thoughts each day must be of love and deep gratitude. After all, someday, someone will be writing about me — and then it will be too late.
Scott “Q” Marcus is a speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds 23 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops and presentation. He also coaches individuals and consults with companies on how to implement and handle change. He can be reached at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com or 707-442-6243.