In the past month or so, I’ve been in two situations where I thought it was possibly the end for me. I hate to sound so dramatic but that’s how I felt at the time. The first occurred on my way to London, and the second happened while I was working from home one day a couple of weeks ago.
The London situation involved the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced. The plane was literally moving up and down. Even the seemingly calm guy next to me woke up from deep slumber and looked around with a sense of panic in his eyes. And I should mention that the turbulence went on for 30 minutes. It was a very “is this the end?” type of situation.
The second incident happened one afternoon while I was working from home. Our building has speakers built into each condo unit for emergency purposes, and so this particular afternoon a message came through – “Please evacuate the building. A fire has been detected. Please evacuate the building. The elevators are shut down, please use the stairs.” This obviously was not a fire drill, so I grabbed my phone and headed to the nearest stairwell. I rushed down 34 flights of stairs (sniffing all the way down) only to find out that it was a drill. WHAT?!
During both of these instances, where I thought there was a chance I was going to die, I automatically started thinking about my loved ones. What was the last thing Vishnu and I talked about? Did we say I love you? When was the last time I talked to each member of my family? Did I say I love you? When was the last time I talked to my friends? What did we talk about? Do all these people know how much I love them?
Luckily everything turned out ok, and it was obviously not the end. But I believe that it’s in the middle of these rare instances where we figure out what’s truly important to us.
Note that I didn’t think about the following – work, how clean my apartment was, my body fat percentage, what I did or did not eat that day, any past regrets or grudges, etc.
All I could think about was the people I love. And this obviously didn’t surprise me at all. However, what knowing for sure what my final thoughts will be did help me in one big way.
It helped me realize that all the other stuff that sometimes occupies the majority of my thoughts is not quite as important as it seems in the moment. Loving relationships mean more to me than anything else in the world, and that’s what I want my primary focus to be. And when the other stuff does come up, I don’t want it to consume me in the way it has in the past. I’m not going to let it.
And that, my friends, is the philosophy I am carrying over into my 30s.
And please note that I am not in any way saying that the only way to figure out what’s important to you is to have near death (or what you perceive to be a near death) experience. Intuitively, I think we all know what’s most important to us. Like I said, it’s about not letting all the other stuff consume you. It’s also about taking life one day at a time, keeping the important stuff front and center.
Oh and ALWAYS saying I love you!