When Life Calls

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“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

When Death CallsΒ was the title of her last Saturday presentation. An expert in the field of planning for death and subsequent life celebrations, she shared some statistics that gave me pause – one of which is that slightly more than 70 percent of Americans do no planning specific to their own or other family members demise. Most leave the matter unaddressed simply assuming others will take care of things. And that can be an unfair burden.

Thinking later about her message, I acknowledged this as a serious topic, one truly worth talking about and planning for.

Then my mind pivoted.

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Are you prepared for when life calls? Not necessarily for death (though it warrants attention) but for how you find meaning and significance in your remaining years?

Many people simply go through the motions, allowing life to determine outcomes rather than each of us having a measurable say in what’s next. Yes, there is tremendous satisfaction, often fulfillment, in going with flow – just as there can be in letting go and lessening the need or desire to control. However, I’m talking about how you can proactively determine the extent to which you want to be engaged with your life; what is important to you.

Without doubt, planning for and making life decisions can be made more helpful when one has a sense of and comfort with their financial plans and security. They’re definitely interwoven.

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Yet when and as life calls, I invite you to ask yourself…

  • How often do I deliberately pause to consider what really matters to me? Deliberately?
  • What is it that can make me a better person?
  • How clear am I on who I want to be in “x” years?
  • What causes are worthy of my active involvement?
  • What have I missed?
  • What stirs my soul?
  • How can I give back?

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Embracing this as a process and creating time to intentionally plan, what unfolds could be renewed clarity about what to do When Life Calls (as well as when death calls).

For your consideration, three thoughts as you explore this theme:

  1. Create space. Don’t cram your life with too many things to do. Give yourself room and permission to enjoy each experience. Give yourself space to find your joy.
  2. Spend time with loved ones. If you want to know how to live an even more meaningful life, spend more time with the people you love. Quality relationships truly matter.
  3. Think “aloha.” This Hawaiian term does not simply mean hello or goodbye but in the truest sense stands for “the process of passing a blessing from one person to another.”

Credit: Light at the end of the tunnel / iStock by Getty Images photo ID 35839548

74 thoughts on “When Life Calls

  1. Love this post and topic Eric. It is indeed a very important issue to address and your questions and thoughts around this are great. Discussing organ donation is important too, as when we were asked to donate our sons organs under extreme pressure, we found it very difficult to do.

  2. Wonderful ponderings Eric. The more I spend time with loved ones, the luckier I feel to have such wonderful people in my circle. It is easy to lose enthusiasm when one lacks material security. And yet, many cultures that are labeled third world are populated with many who live their values and find inner peace.

    • Thank you, Linda. I wholeheartedly agree with your third world reference. Their points of reference and perspectives are grounded so differently from those of developed counties and Western cultures. I also concur with your recognizing the value of loved ones in your circle. Lucky you!

  3. Hi Eric,

    I have never seriously planned because whatever plans I had for my own self didn’t work, so I let life flow. Now when I look back, I am quite satisfied with the way my life has unfolded. I am happy that most of the questions you have put here have occurred to me during my journey and I have been answering them well. What more do you want from life? πŸ™‚
    Thanks for making me feel blessed!

    • Indeed, Balroop, many who have simply relinquished to flow are satisfied (if not very pleased) with how their lives have unfolded. Planning simply does not work for everyone yet the two different trajectories still yield favorable outcomes. πŸ™‚ You are blessed!!

  4. Having been through my ‘fear’ of death in my journey, I can see many not wanting to ‘face’ that dreaded time.
    But having faced it, seen the journey for what it truly is, as you have said, it makes sense in throwing out things that no longer make sense, have no worth (to you), and allow you to spend more quality time with yourself, and those you love.
    The truth of the matter is…if your doctor came up to you tomorrow and said you have two weeks to live…..what then has that importance that you must keep going with it. In truth, it will always come back to those you love, spending that time, quality time because it is the only thing that always holds that worth, and of ourselves as well.
    Great post Eric, thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

    • Your comments are beautifully shared, Mark. And poignant to to both the post’s message and our unique journeys. Thank you for adding richly to this virtual thread. I appreciate you!

  5. One of my family friends, she is 85 and at this age working with women from lower sections of the society and teaching them basic skills. Her motto has always been to keep yourself occupied both mentally AND physically! The rest she says just falls into place.
    Your post reminded me of her πŸ™‚

    • Thank you. When we intentionally listen to and observe the chronologically gifted, especially those close to us, we see how wisdom accumulates with age. πŸ™‚ How fortunate you are, Prajakta, to have her nearby and to share her beliefs with you.

  6. Well seen and well said, Eric! I suspect we are all guilty of neglecting our paths and our lives in the face of day to day doings. A curious case of inattention perhaps? Pleased to pause with you here. Ron

    • Always good to have you stop by, read and then share your wisdom and insights, Ron. Thank you. And I concur with “a curious case of inattention.” Too easy to default to that space.

    • Thanks, Colleen. Truth be acknowledged, I suspect many of us do not consistently “do it as well as we could.” Guilty here. Yet your having such awareness can pave the way for each of us to become more intentionally focused. πŸ™‚

  7. Interesting article Eric. I don’t believe or rather I know that we cannot plan our lives, neither can we decide on how to run our lives. This is not in our hands. The Universe runs our lives, as well as determining our death. It seems ludicrous to plan anything. We only have NOW. Already, this message, when you read it, is old, and we should never look back, yesterday doesn’t exist, neither does tomorrow. Only today. πŸ™‚

    • A ‘spot on’ observation and comment, Deborah. An advocate of being in and appreciating the Now, I know of people who have found and practice a useful blend of living in the Now, intentionally allowing flow, and weaving in some planning. A classic case of “to each their own” right? πŸ™‚

  8. A very good and necessary perspective. So many people seem to suffer from “magical thinking” i.e. everything will somehow all work out without their input. These people not only never think about death, but never even plan on retirement. The money needed for when they cannot (or do not want to) work will somehow appear when necessary! Tomorrow is always going to be the day when do they start to do something constructive with their lives. So many people, when at their life’s end, express regrets at what they did not do… and they can do little about it at that point.

    Somebody once said that the only guarantee you have with life, is that you will never leave it alive, and wasn’t it Nike (?) who coined the slogan “Life is not a spectator sport!”

    So many motivational stimulants, but I guess it is simply easier to do nothing. Such a shame if it involves missing out on your own life!

    • Spoken like and shared by a man who sounds as if he has done some prudent planning. πŸ™‚ I appreciate your reference to those who choose to do nothing — a state I liken to never exploring outside of one’s comfort zone(s). Personally, I have found a hybrid approach that integrates both planning and acknowledging/allowing matters that I consider beyond my control. And regrets? They serve little constructive purpose (said humbly, of course).

  9. I was guilty of not giving life much thought until my husband’s illness and death. After going through the illness with him for six months, day by day, being with him at the end, and the time that has followed now, I have come to a screeching stop to think about all that you have written here. And ask myself the questions. I’m grateful I have the opportunity to do this.
    Aloha.

    • It warms me, Angeline, to learn that the post has provided you with an opportunity (and choice) to reflect on the message shared. I trust and hope you were/are able to glean something positive and supportive from what you have considered. Aloha, returned!

  10. Thank you so much, Eric. This is a wonderful post, and I received some tips that I plan to take to heart. πŸ’œ
    My spiritual mentor John-Roger has a phrase Baruch Bashan, or the blessings already are. This is how I live my life (or do my best, anyway!) Blessings to you 😊

  11. I must admit I am a terrible planner, Eric. I seem to sit passively, awaiting for situations to arrive, and if the door to exploring them opens easily, I walk through; if not, then I walk away. I think I must be fortunate in that many interesting opportunities have presented themselves to me over the decades, so there never has been a time when I’ve felt I was merely treading water, or was indeed ‘waiting’, as I earlier suggested. I suspect that is unusual though, and that for many, your advice would be very well heeded. All best wishes and many thanks, Hariod.

    • I’m not sure your situation is unusual, Hariod. In my experience, there are many people who feign planning and simply address matters as they present. And for some of them, the door(s) you reference open and opportunities present/manifest. Perhaps they are a fortunate lot. Still, there are many people who need to and clearly benefit from varying degrees of intentional planning. And for them, outcomes can be fruitful as well. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. I shared the message to prompt thought and plant seeds. And hope for favorable, productive results. πŸ™‚

  12. Great post Eric. I have been thinking along similar lines – finding the balance between going with the flow and planning to achieve goals. i bought a nice little book yesterday called GET SH*T DONE by STARTUPVITAMINS. The back cover says, “You cannot achieve by only talking about what you are going to do one day. You must get sh*t done. And you must surround yourself with other people who get sh*t done (Aaron Levie, Box). That is my goal in the coming months plus to incorporate it into my Transition to Retirement group :).

    • Some time ago, I accompanied a post with a graphic image that stated “Mother Teresa didn’t walk around complaining about her thighs. She had shit to do.” And she accomplished a lot! Do we think she did all she did sans planning? Yours is a great perspective and share, Lorraine. Thank you. And… all the best with your evolving TtR Group!

      • Thanks Eric for your encouraging support πŸ™‚ and congratulations for your appointment to the Board. What an amazing concept!

  13. Happy-go-lucky, Rommel, is definitely part of that statistic! But I think I’ve grown so much in the part couple of years. I’ve known balance most of my adult life, but now I think I’ve learned the depths of responsibility, time management and prioritizing. I’ve taken into consideration not just balance between work and play, but balance between future, past and present. πŸ˜‰

    • Indeed, grasshopper… you *have* grown. Your expressed perspectives evidence balance and meaningful choices. I suspect your world travels and experiences have contributed to your learning journey and… helped to create Happy-go-lucky Rommel. πŸ™‚ Thanks for adding your appreciated, personal reflection.

  14. Wonderful piece. I work in end of life care. I’ve observed many people ignore the topic of death, because they fear the life, as yet unlived, that lies within them. Those who live life as fully as they can, welcome death as just another adventure they intend to take.

    • A beautiful view, Noelle. And true, too. Your chosen field of work must be both challenging and revealing… a place seemingly filled with regret, joy and life lessons. Thank you for your sharing.

  15. Good stuff! We struggle with #1 but with a full house, it’s tough, haha. One of the best parts of that recent vacation was just not scheduling anything the entire time. So refreshing! Hope all is well your way, Eric. Cheers.

    • For quite likely the first time, I am arranging a September vacation with very little itinerary development (a.k.a. planning). Atypical for me yet I am comfortably looking forward to simply allowing, be-ing, and discovering – spontaneously. Thanks, Brian!

      • So fun! It was quite liberating to do this during the California journey, recently. No plans, just good times wherever and however they happened. I have a feeling you will enjoy it, as well!

  16. I am not sure what the % would be here in the UK. I would not be surprised if it isn’t the same as the USA. Death, isn’t a topic to be brought up when you are live – is the thinking. I lost my dad at the age of 22 during my final year of my degree. Since then we are quite good to get a WILL done. It is so hard, cause life can get disgusting complicated, especially if you get family members who marry into the family and dont want you but want your money. It gets so hard to plan for the end.

    I will of course put my spin on this. We are souls we are immortal, the body dies not the soul. Therefore, fear of personal death is a fear I don’t feel cause I am an immortal soul. A driver of a car doesn’t live in the car for every – the car has to be changed when it no longer functions. Knowing this helped me immensely when my dad passed away. Daddy’s little girl – always and forever.

    beautiful post

    • Thank you, Bella. Unfortunately, it can take a tragic, personal life event to refocus us on that we believe is important and worthy of our time and attention. I both *hear* and agree with your view on our soul or spirit being immortal. It is simply the vessel in which we spend our earthly lives that ceases to function.

  17. I think that going with the flow also includes some steering, no? Pausing to evaluate the course and plan how to use the (little) influence we have on the direction is a healthy practice. Thanks for this great post, Eric. Aloha!

    • I believe it does, Helen. And there are people who simply prefer to not steer. Does that get them to where they want to be? I don’t know. Conversely, there are consummate planners who do not arrive at their desired destination either. Different perspectives aside, I like your “pausing to evaluate…” view (and I suspect, practice). πŸ™‚ Hybrid choices and be both beneficial and healthy. Well shared and thank you.

  18. The way you expressed this, Eric, got me thinking. I feel this held very important reminders, too. My favorite was “What stirs your soul?”
    Everyone in our family agrees, organ donation if still viable, pictures of favorite people with deceased person tacked up on the bulletin boards on easels. One night visitation and no cemetery. πŸ™‚

    • I believe each of us and our families choose how to live life and address death, Robin. Thank you for acknowledging the post’s focus and some of the suggested considerations. “What stirs your soul” is one of my favorite questions and reflections. And our spirits live on! πŸ™‚

  19. Great article Eric! I live in a 50+ lakeside community and many of the people here thought they would just fish for the rest of their lives without realizing how boring that would get. So we see depression, physical inactivity, people swapping stories about their latest sickness/surgery trying to out do each other, and lots of drinking. The sad thing is they think that’s all a normal part of aging. But me as a “young senior” is it is motivation to stay healthy and active.

    • Brava, Genie! You obviously have your finger on the pulse of life — and thriving. I am quite familiar with the mind-sets and attitudes that are oft prevalent in 50+ communities. Yet, to your point, they need not be negative and draining. A little planning goes a long way to help frame a retirement lifestyle. Simply waiting for opportunities to manifest, lakeside, is wishful thinking. πŸ™‚ Thank you for adding your relevant observations.

  20. I was struck reading this Eric that in some ways the failure to engage regarding the end of life, perhaps for a fear of what that means, can in some ways be related to a lack of readiness to engage with life in the present. It’s like a failure to make contact with something important and essential to our nature, IF it is a form of withdrawal or keeping something at arm’s length, likely also hinders our awareness of life and the ability to express it fully. It is hard to dance while wearing handcuffs!

    peace
    Michael

    • One of my favorite bloggers chimes in with beautiful (and apt) insights. And… an amusing visual (dancing while wearing handcuffs). πŸ™‚ You and I are on the same page regarding the “…lack of readiness to engage with life in the present” view. I believe this to be true. It would seem that someone who lives a full, engaged life would be able to mitigate anticipated or real fear about death. But I have been accused of being a contrarian in views and actions. So I’ll simply step off the soapbox. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful outlook, Michael.

  21. Wonderful advice Eric. My days are always full of ‘stuff ‘…and life’s demands are at an all time high. I am finding this particular issue, very difficult to alter in my current circumstances. Great Post, Cheers Nicole

    • Perhaps it need not be altered, Nicole. πŸ™‚ At least presently. The message was shared simply to encourage reflection and perhaps, plant a seed for later consideration. You will know when the time is right. Then it will simply be a matter of choice. Your comment is much appreciated.

  22. This is great Eric. Something we all seem to do and go with the flow instead of being proactive in the most important things in life!
    Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  23. A thoughtful post, Eric. Thank you.
    I try to be mindful of important moments, treat them with care. I like the proposition of life calling. I like the hopefulness it offers. Because life sure does call, except too many times I don’t hear it over the internal noise, or I ignore it, though I don’t mean to. Yet the call is immensely important.

    • Thank you! I appreciate your positive views and comments, Silvia. πŸ™‚ Hearing life’s calls is something many of us miss – at least until the chime deafens us. This is when and where being intentionally aware can help. I believe we simply need to heighten our consciousness so that those (more obvious than we think) callings are heeded, considered and possibly acted upon. Agreed, the call *is* important.

  24. Love your thoughts on this Eric.. My husband and I were only pondering along the same lines while in Scotland.. as we spoke about what is important to us.. We spend far too many years wrapped up within the rat race of life, we often forget to LIVE.. and often neglect those whom we love the most.. I too have been guilty of this often in my own career path..
    Learning to take time for Self.. is a must..And not just in our latter years either..
    So I fully endorse your 3 area’s to Create Space: Spend time with love ones: and yes Aloha..
    Blessings always sent to you Eric.. Thank you for always inspiring ..

    Sue πŸ™‚

    • It is always good to learn about people who eventually “get it.” Yes, we more chronologically gifted beings finally see the light come on and fortunately, while we can still act on our accumulated wisdom to thrive! You are far from alone in acknowledging that we often neglect those whom we love the most. Yet when we (at least in the blogging community) encourage awareness around what really matters, we find others concurring and choosing to reflect more closely on their choices and actions. And this is good! Abundant blessings returned, Sue.

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  26. Aloha! Eric. What a wonderful post. I haven’t done so much of the spending time with loves one. I’ve been feeling the urge to do so for the summer. Thank you for the 3 thoughts. I will follow the guidance on a daily basis. Very inspiring. Namaste! Diane

    • You are welcome, Diane. It is pleasing to learn that the post’s three considerations resonate with you. And that you will be inspired by the guidance as you continue along your journey. Namaste!

  27. This is a very important post and a great reminder ~ it is easy to get caught up in “it” all, and forget the real reasons that make life so special and rewarding. I’ve heard so many stories of people retiring from a career or undergoing a major shift in lifestyle and not at all being prepared for such a life altering moment, moments to be treasured, and find themselves lost and wandering. A result of never contemplating what would happen when “life calls” as you put it. Your guideline at the end of the post is so extremely valuable, a pathway towards finding a way to wrap yourself up in life. Well done once again, Eric! πŸ™‚

  28. Thanks, Randy. I concur and believe that many people find themselves lost and wandering. Yet the matter of simply contemplating, as you point out, what matters — to be better prepared is not difficult. Rather than wait for a proverbial life-altering event to prompt this consideration, a little intentional focus on what is significant is all it takes. We need to pause, reflect a bit and sweep the path so our journey continues with appreciated clarity. Here’s to meaningful preparation.

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