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Home Beginning Wicca, My Articles Live Like You Were Dying


Live Like You Were Dying

Recently, I was picking up my wife, and I heard a song on the radio. It was by Tim McGraw, and perhaps some of you have heard it. I’ll republish the lyrics here:

He said I was in my early forties
with a lot of life before me
when a moment came that stopped me on a dime
and I spent most of the next days
looking at the x-rays
Talking bout the options
and talking bout sweet time
I asked him when it sank in
that this might really be the real end
how’s it hit you when you get that kinda news
man what’d you do

and he said
I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.

He said I was finally the husband
that most the time I wasn’t
and I became a friend a friend would like to have
and all the sudden going fishin
wasn’t such an imposition
and I went three times that year I lost my dad
well I finally read the good book
and I took a good long hard look
at what I’d do if I could do it all again

and then
I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.

Like tomorrow was a gift and you got eternity to think about
what’d you do with it what did you do with it
what did I do with it
what would I do with it’

Sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
and then I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I watched an eagle as it was flying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.
(repeat 4x times)

Pay special attention to the second verse of lyrics. The singer of the song is saying that his friend, actually probably his dad, Tug McGraw, felt he wasn’t able to do what he wanted to do during his life, and it’s only when he was fatally ill that he found the time to do those things.

It’s a shame that anyone has to be told s/he is dying to start living his life. Really.

What’s so terrible is that just about everyone I see these days are like that. They don’t seem to understand that life is not something to be endured but something to be reveled in and enjoyed. Very few people know this basic secret.

I want to run around and tell everyone that they are dying if this is the kind of reaction that occurs. I wouldn’t be lying either.

No one gets out of life alive. No one. Everyone dies. There is no one in the history of the world who has ever gotten out of this lifetime alive. Not even Jesus, for He died and was resurrected.

Add to this the fact that once we are born, we start dying. Granted for the first few dozen or so years, we replace and grow faster than we die, but we still die. Decay and entropy always increase and the failure of our bodies is simply a matter of time.

It’s a wonder more people don’t realize this.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet one or two people with terminal illnesses or disorders. I know people who live with people who have terminal illnesses. Every time it’s the same, those that know they don’t have a lot of time left on this Earth live life like they were trying to live five people’s lives all at once. They get frustrated and sad when they can’t.

One of my good friends in school was a kid named Chip Tatum. We used to tease him and call him “Tatum Tot” and get on him for being so spastic. He always seemed to be doing 12 things at once and doing so many things a supercomputer would have trouble keeping up.

Well, we graduated and I lost contact with Chip. Eventually I found out that he was a gamer, just like me. We met each other again at the gaming shop I used to go to, and I was shocked to see the change in him.

He got thin, he got tall, he had no hair. In short, he had Hodgkin’s Disease. I learned later that he had gone to Texas and had a bone marrow transplant and had the disease in remission for a while. When I re-met him, he had one of the most INNOVATIVE dungeon adventures I have ever seen (and this is coming from a 14 year gaming geek, so I’ve seen a whole lot of those scenarios). It took us several weeks to get through it, and in the process we lost four party members, ruined our magical armor and weapons, had one halfling who was frozen in place due to stupidity, one guy who was eaten by his food and two who had no hands, wrists or lower legs left due to the mercury crushing those body parts out of existence. We weren’t rank beginners either; we were VERY experienced wizards, fighters and clerics we are talking about. Gandalf the White level of experience.

Chip died about 1991. I still feel guilty for not being with him. He left a new wife (only married her about 5 months before he died) and a new baby behind. But that dungeon will live on.

The reason I told you about Chip is to point out that he wrote that dungeon, the whole thing, while he was in the hospital having that bone marrow transplant. Some will say “yeah, he had the time to do it” and that will show that you have never been under the knife for major surgery. He was in there for months, undergoing one of the most painful procedures our doctors can come up with. He had all his marrow killed off by radiation, had new marrow injected into his bones by surgery and STILL he found the energy and drive to live his life and write that dungeon.

Anyone who has been in the hospital for an appendectomy will attest that all you want to do is lay there and suffer. “Gimme drugs!” was the chant for a lot. You want to lie there and not do anything. Just recover. But in an era where writing a dungeon by hand was all you could do (there were no practical laptops), he wrote a 400 page dungeon, complete with detailed maps.

That’s living.

This is not an isolated incident either. There are literally thousands of stories like this. It’s a shame that the dying have to show us how precious our time is.

So, I want to knock some heads together and start screaming at you all to live your life. But I can’t make you.

One of the worst things you can do is to live by default. Never making a choice, going with the flow, not doing or being or trying, just letting fate decide what you will do. What that is invariably going to do is to force you into the worst choice of all, and then you will suffer.

At any given point in your life, you have the choice of changing your entire life to what you want it to be. All you have to do is to decide that you want to live your life. That’s it. You can break out of that shitty job and go fishing with your child. You can go out and take skydiving lessons, flying lessons, whatever lessons. You can start a new business and make it succeed. It will mean doing what you want and not letting others tell you that you can’t.

This will sound cold, but it has to be said. There is no choice without consequences. If you decide to walk into your boss and quit, then go spend the day at the lake, that’s your choice. But the consequences of that are that you are going to have to do pretty good fishing or your family is going to go hungry. The consequence of quitting is no money.

Each choice of this nature brings a sacrifice. Only you can decide if the sacrifice is worth the result you seek. Maybe what you have to sacrifice is not something you want to give up, and that’s fine. But if you make radical changes in your life, then expect radical consequences to happen. If you want the change will only relatively small consequences, then you have to go slowly and work toward it over a longer period of time.

The point is that it’s YOUR choice to live or not to live as you see fit. If you want to make connections in your gay and lesbian community (for example), then do it. Don’t make excuses or mutter something about it not being the right time. If you want to do something, don’t wait till you are told that you are going to die to experience it, do it. Just understand that there will be consequences to that action.

A few years ago, my wife turned me onto Richard Bach. He had a statement in a book he wrote called “One” in which all lives are so intertwined they are all (effectively) One life. In there, the main character met alternate versions of himself and his wife. They had made different choices along the line of their lives, the alternate him was, predictably, dying of lung cancer. At one point, that character is lamenting his wasted defaulted life and says, “I gave my whole life to be the person I am right now. Was it worth it?”

No truer words have ever been spoken.

Originally posted 2012-11-07 15:04:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2 Responses to “Live Like You Were Dying”

  1. Hope says:

    Do you really want to know how this affected me? THIS ARTICLE?
    Steve and I managed to run Impromptu adventures- and I managed to save all of them that we did in text- then while we lived together -I pulled up notes, pictures, “story details” and added to them

    When he died- the Estate closed, the Manor house passed into the hands of another- and the Compound and Foundation were temporarily vacated. I haven’t had the heart to start re-writing these again.

    I can’t make myself live in Our world that we created- a world with no cancer- where we had a son(his only dream that did not happen). My world turns with emptiness and pain- my adventures that I had written- without Steve – are nothing.

    right now- I am just trying to go on living…..

    • Daven says:

      Hope, I so wish I could hug you now. I’m sorry if this made a bad situation worse. I hope one day that you will be able to live there again with him.

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