The Roller Coaster of Life and Death – Day 329 of 365 Days to a Better You

It feels like death is all around lately. We lost my father-in-law in December. We lost our beloved family dog a couple weeks ago. Today the whole world witnessed the loss of Kobe Bryant. In this same time period millions of people and animals have died.

The thought of death is a constant for the living. We try hard to put it out of our thoughts, but when it strikes close to us, we are reminded of the mortality that affects all living things.

I find that roller coasters are a good metaphor for life and death. I love a good roller coaster. As a kid, though, when I’d ride one that scare me a little, I’d have this thought as we left the station and began climbing the first hill.

“There’s no turning back now. Even if I decide I don’t want to do this, they’re not going to stop the ride and let me off. I’m on it for the duration. Whatever drops and spins and turns and flips are on this track, I’m going to experience them. I might as well buckle in and enjoy them to the fullest because in a few minutes, one way or another, the ride will be over.”

That’s life. It’s a ride we’re in and we can’t really get off. We’re here to ride it to the end, whatever that is for us. Sometimes it seems big and scary. Sometimes it lifts you out of your seat and throws you for a loop.

We can either hold on white-knuckled with our eyes forced shut or we can laugh our head off, feel the sensations, and enjoy every moment until the ride stops.

When, where, and how our ride stops may be in the stars and beyond our control. So, let’s put our arms in the air, belly laugh constantly, and ride our ride our way.

Just in case no one else has reminded you today, you’re awesome!


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Eat Your Dessert First – Day 309 of 365 Days to a Better You

You should always listen to your grandmother. Mine once told me you should always eat dessert first…just in case.

Today we buried my father-in-law. He was a good man who, despite his many challenges, always brought a smile to other peoples’ faces. As I said my final goodbyes to him, my grandmother’s words came back to me. In fact, they took on a new and more profound meaning.

Sure, there’s the plain meaning of eat the chocolate cake before the meal. Who can argue with the wisdom of that?

What, though, if dessert is a metaphor for all the good and important things in life? What if eating your dessert first means spending the time now with the people you love? What if it means to stop putting off your most important goals and dreams? What if means to stop denying yourself meaningful experiences because you don’t have time or they cost too much? EAT YOUR DESSERT FIRST!

One day each of us will lay in that box with our friends and loved ones looking over us to say their goodbyes. Will your belly be full of all life’s mundane necessities or will your face be smeared with the chocolate frosting of a life well-lived? You’re making that decision now with every choice you make.

Hey, just in case no one else has reminded you today, you are awesome!

Have a great evening, my friends.


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Dealing with Our Mortality – Day 129 of 365 Days to a Better You

Today’s Affirmation

Whatever comes, I embrace every bit of it!

I enjoy the way Sirius/XM has radio stations playing songs from all the decades of my life. Tuning in anywhere from 60s on 6 to Pop Y2K immediately brings back memories of those times. Driving home from my daily ride to Boston this morning, I worked my way down the dial and reflected.

There are a lot of years in the rearview mirror these days and a lot of tread on these tires. Each decade reminds me of important pieces of who I am and that the years are racing by.

Our black Lab, Mia, is going to turn 15 this Saturday. That’s 105 to you and me. She’s uber-geriatric for a Lab. I work from home and so I spend much of my day with her and have since she was a puppy. The sense that she’s coming to the end has been palpable in recent months. It hangs in the air like a stench. We enjoy each day – some rough and some better. She’s had a great life and we try to give her as much more as we can every day.

It makes me think how every living thing (or composite thing as the Buddha used to say) has a lifecycle that includes the exuberance of youth, the mellowness and stress of middle age, the slow deterioration that inevitably comes with old age, and eventually we perish.

Wow, Ray! That’s a downer for a Thursday morning. I don’t mean to bring you down, but this is reality we all face as living beings. Humanity has found several templated ways of dealing this eventuality.

  1. Hedonist – some say live for now. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. Many people who hold this view believe that our existence is some kind of accident and there is nothing, but now and we better take it while it’s here.
  2. Be Here Now – like the first group, these people believe that the now is all there is. Past and future are either not guaranteed for imaginary in some way. They’re not indulgent like the hedonist, but they do believe that now is the most important.
  3. Next Life & Reward – others put their stock in some future “there and then” that will be more pleasant than today. They often see this as a reward for believing the right things about this world. While there are nuances, many put more focus on that world than on this one.
  4. It’s All an Illusion – some philosophies believe that this world is an illusory world and the escape hatch is discovered by recognizing the the illusion and escaping through some kind of enlightenment.

My purpose here is not to criticize any of these ideas. I mean part of the mystery is we just don’t know. You can believe something very strongly, but to claim you absolutely know what happens after this life is just untrue.

For me, they all have strengths and their weaknesses. Their ramifications play out in our world in positive and negative ways. I won’t outline those in this post, but if you follow any of them to their logical conclusion, you’ll find their benefits and their flaws.

Power hack: None of this changes our reality. So, what do we do? What are we to think? I’ve been dealing with the prospect of my own mortality from a much younger age than most. I’ve a lot of years to think about it.

Here’s where I’ve arrived. Whether we’re temporary or eternal, illusory or real, the cause of it all or an accident; we must embrace it all. It’s all a part of who we are. Embrace what’s here and embrace whatever’s next.

What if we choose to see this common living and dying path every human – indeed every living thing – is experiencing through eyes of understanding and compassion? What if we focused on that profound commonality rather than all the superficial differences? What if we got up every morning and just said, “Yes,” to it all regardless of what it is, how long it lasts, or what reward we might get later? What if we stopped worrying about who’s wrong and who’s right and, instead, applied a little wisdom to our mutual dilemma?

What kind of a world would we have? Well, that’s the question I will leave you to ponder this morning!

Thanks so much for reading this blog. If you get something positive from it, please share it with a friends. Have an AWESOME day!


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