Anatomy of a Life

Being alive while we are here.

l talk to a lot of people who feel empty inside, as if they are missing some essential ingredient that would enable them to live in a more fulfilling way. I often hear: “I’m really busy. I have lots of friends, a good home life. So, why don’t I feel happier?”

We all seem to be focused on the challenges, the relationship issues, our careers, home life, etc. — all the areas that are lit up like neon signs, all the areas we can pinpoint as the root of our unhappiness.

Whenever I talk with someone, inevitably the conversation hits a high note about life. I am forever asking a question that stops them cold, one that helps them contemplate a simple but essential question in their lives. It can be quite random, such as:

“What do you want people to remember about you?” or

“What gift are you leaving the world?”

They usually look at me with a puzzled, albeit, frustrated look.

“Say what?” they ask.

Recently I talked with a friend who had lost her husband of 30 years. Her voice was low, barely above a whisper. After several years of caring for her husband in his illness, he died, leaving her to pick up the pieces of a life she no longer recognized.

She mentioned her own health issues that were now cropping up. She sounded weary and bottomed out. In a voice that was barely audible, she whispered, “I just want to live my own life.”

Her words reminded me of a song called “Spirits” by The Strumbellas. The lyrics remind us of a resolve deep within us — the desire to truly live. NOW!

And I don’t want a never ending life
I just want to be alive while I’m here

And I don’t want a never ending life
I just want to be alive while I’m here

And I don’t want to see another night
Lost inside a lonely life while I’m here

At some point, hopefully, we feel the urge to just be “alive while we are here” — connecting with something greater than ourselves, letting that be enough, and not worrying about our perceived problems. It is in our everyday moments, the ones that slip by us unnoticed, the ones we later regret have passed, that make up the totality of our lives. It is something to really think about now, not later.

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