if we are really lucky in this world, we scrape up against mortality in a very real way — preferably while we are young enough for full impact, and old enough to ask the questions that help us make sense of it. if we are incredibly lucky, we find a way for those answers and our emotions to inform our world and let us make an impact on suffering and sorrow.

for the rest of us, we take many paths, some seemingly direct, others more circuitous, and the real truths of life come in bits and pieces along the way before a cumulative effect becomes clear.

every once in awhile, something happens that grabs us by the shoulders, shakes us good and hard and says “see? do you see this? how does this change how you are going to live? not just for a few moments, but from here on out. do you get it yet?”

we get to choose whether we pay attention.

I have been struck silent for most of today. I was pulled off my purposeful plans unexpectedly. Yesterday an old friend from high school texted me that she needed help to go to a memorial (she is diagnosed with essential tremor and long drives are tough). It was a great chance to spend time with a good friend and catch up. I didn’t remember our fellow student so well, he was a year younger, though I did help cheer him from the sidelines at high school football games.

i googled Don Young that night before the memorial. Don died of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. He started a blog, Hope is Denial, and began writing about his journey, at first typing with both hands, then one, then on his phone with the fingertips of his left hand, and finally with his left big toe. He chose what day he died. He chose adventures over safe choices while he still could. He chose love over fear. And he chose to keep writing, to keep living, and to keep loving, leaving behind a memorial to his life and a legacy to his friends and family. After spending today mesmerized by his stories I am grateful beyond belief that he left this record of his life. I did not know Don, I wish that I had. In some small way, I do now know him, and I accept his inherent challenge to truly live my days. Thank you Don, be in peace.

The way you do what you do has the power to affect others lives. Who you are when you are living your life is powerful. How you treat people, what you do with your time and your heart and your energy are important choices, every day, every moment.

What matters, to you? Are you doing something with your life that makes your heart sing? Do you lose track of time when you are immersed in it? What creates deep meaning for you? Are you making choices that are congruent with your heart’s desires? Are you ready to find answers for these questions, and then more importantly, are you ready to live those answers?

We rarely know when we need to get busy living, or get busy dying. I suggest the former. I’m starting today. Will you join me?

ps: any details I got wrong in telling Don’s story are mine alone.

Hope is Denial by Donald Young