A Life Well Lived

Stories, we all have stories.  

Nature does not tell stories, we do.  

We find ourselves in them, make ourselves in them, choose ourselves in them.

 If we are the stories we tell ourselves, we better choose them well.”

James Orbinski, M.D.

Today the colours in my backyard were magnificent and when the sun fell on the trees,  the leaves whose colour, already a beautiful yellow turned to a golden hue much like that of real gold!  So beautiful and unexpected and even though this is an annual change – it never ceases to amaze me the wonder of the changing colours – the turning of the leaves!

And today the time changed as well – “fall back” – and we gained an hour of sleep this morning – so much needed at least for me!

This has been an emotional weekend – beautiful in many ways but difficult as well.  On Friday we attended the funeral of a very dear friend Mary Gibbons, mother-in-law to my sister Sandra.  She was a very special woman who lived a full life up until the end – close to her 89th year.  Although her life had many dynamics perhaps you could say that she was most famous for her baking and her cooking – and wow, could she do this well.  Hungarian in  heritage, her mastery of Hungarian pastries and cakes was second to none. If you were fortunate enough to have a taste of one of these masterpieces you were sure to receive more than a bite for the size of the slice she would serve you would be enormous. Her motto:

 “Go Big or Go Home”

And that is the way she lived her life.  She was a full participant – no sitting back for her!  Till the day she suffered the stroke that took her life she drove her own car, lived in her own home and was preparing for a family get together – a dinner in her home prepared of course by her alone – the pies were ready to go – some groceries bought – she was prepared!

You find out so much about a person upon their death when the stories are told about the impact she had on others.  And impact she did have – she reached out – connected – and cared for so many – and usually it was those who needed that extra care – a special welcome for someone new to her church – special support if a senior was not able to get out – and encouragement for young people.  She touched lives – many lives – in her own special way that even her family didn’t fully know!

I love the motto – “Go Big or Go Home”   What a wonderful way to live – all in – full participation – no roadblock could stop her- no small steps – just do it!  And what an inspiration to still live this way at the age of 89!

These kinds of events always help you to reflect on life.  When you listen to how a person’s life is eulogized you ask the question – what is my summary going to be – what is my motto for life?  It is so important to live the life we want to be remembered for living.

My good friend James Orbinski in his book “An Imperfect Offering” wrote the following:

Stories, we all have stories.  Nature does not tell stories, we do.  We find ourselves in them, make ourselves in them, choose ourselves in them.  If we are the stories we tell ourselves, we better choose them well.”

Life is about choices – to a great extent we choose our own story – and for those things that we have no choice in, we can choose how we react.  Our life is a story – and the question is what will that story be?

I want to live a life well lived. And it is not that I want to be well known for the life I have lived, no, I want to be known by those close to me to be a person who is genuine – a person who walks their talk – a person who lives out the values they speak of.  My father talks about “living a life of minimum regrets”.  What a wonderful way to look at life.  To make every decision and every word and every deed be a word, action and deed that leave minimum regrets.

This takes intentional thinking, feeling and intentional behaviour.  We are all writing our stories- in fact mine is more than half written – and it is the unique story of my life.  And it will not be the amount of money I earned, or how many people know my name that will make the difference in how the story is told.  It will be the choices I make about how I live each day – how I chose to treat people – care for people – and make an impact on those I have been given the privilege to associate with. That will be the significant storyline of my story. What I  do know is that I want those who know me best to testify that my character was solid – and that when I did fall down – I found my way back up in humility with the help of those around me.

I want to be remembered for bringing more joy than sorrow, more good than bad, more love than selfishness, more laughter than tears, and more hope than despair – and I want to live my choices with minimal regrets – a life well lived.

Mary Gibbons did just that !


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