The Phoenix

The sun rises and a new day begins. With it comes new hopes and new dreams. The dawning of the sun brings a rebirth. It brings life. As the evening comes, the hopes of the day cease. This close signifies death, a conclusion to the life that was.

We see this cycle repeated over and over. Days, seasons, eras. Life followed by death, which in turn is followed by new life, a new hope from a new generation in the cycle.

The long nights and the long winters are filled with despair. Without hope, life ceases. There have been times when the sun seemed to refuse to rise. There have been times when the Spring was long overdue in its return. It was in those times that it was toughest to keep the faith.

When we come to the end of an age, we are faced with a choice. We can choose to stay where we are, or we can move forward. You must be brave to move forward into the unknown, beyond the confines of comfort. You must be even braver to leave the dead behind and forge ahead into a new life. It takes courage to decide to be the phoenix and rise up from the ashes.

Only you can make this decision, no one else can do it for you. It may sound scary, but there is still hope. Alone you choose whether to be reborn. But once you make the choice, you are no longer alone. Others are there to help you grow in this new season of your life.

Examining Epictetus #35: Memento Mori

One day, I will leave this body. Death will come, and there is no stopping it.

Time. Once it is lost, it is gone forever. As Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Space I can recover. Time, never.”

Death cannot be cheated. Time cannot be recovered. It almost sounds inevitably depressing. Doesn’t it? But…

If I spend one good hour in a fruitful endeavor, would I mourn the passing of that hour? Of course not. The only hours I would regret would be the ones wasted in vain pursuits.

In a similar way, I should consider death. When my time comes, will I mourn a well-lived life? Absolutely not, for I made the best use of what I was given. Time doesn’t even matter here. Well-lived over ten years or a hundred is still well-lived. My only regret at death would be if I never really lived at all.

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Death is a part of life. Live well and there will not be a need to mourn when your journey comes to an end. Mourn not for others who have lived well and are also at an end. Rather, we should celebrate their life and wish them well on their next adventure. Our separation from them will indeed be sad, but such is life, and such is death. This we cannot prevent. All we can do is continue to live and walk our own journey.

I am not eternal, but a human being; a part of the whole, as an hour is of the day. Like an hour I must come and, like an hour, pass away. – Epictetus

Memento Mori. Translated from Latin, it means to remember death. This is not a morbid thing but rather a call to live the life you have been given.

Death Later, Life Now

Faith 12/13/2019

What is the one guarantee you have in this life? You are going to die? You are not guaranteed health or even old age? Only death. It comes for us all. No discrimination. Unless you are Enoch or Elijah, you are going to experience it.

Yes, you will die. But you are not dead yet. With this knowledge, how will you live the rest of your life? The seconds fly by. How will you use them? This is the one resource you cannot buy more of. Once your allocation is gone, it is gone forever.

But what about your problems? They are so numerous and cause so many limitations. We all have them, and we all have to make do with what we have. As you take in these words, consider:

  • You have your eyesight
  • You have the ability to read and/or hear
  • You have breath

There are those who lost the ability to see and to hear. All that have gone before us can no longer breathe. Yet, you have it. And if we think about it, there is so much more that we have. There is so much that we can be grateful for. What we have far outweighs all our problems.

Death is coming. But right now, we have life. It may not be perfect, but it doesn’t matter. Use what you got to make the most out of the time you have left.

Heaven and earth are impartial. They allow all things to die. –Lao Tzu

Hey Google, Set Timer to 14 Months

A month ago, everything seemed fine. And then three weeks ago, there was a seizure that led to brain surgery. Another incident last week, and the news was delivered to my Father-in-Law, “You have 14-18 months left.” The news is difficult for him. It is difficult for the family. And yes, it is difficult for me. Here is a man who has had an enormous impact on my life. He has taught me so much, and yet, I feel as if there is so much more for him to teach me. Selfish? Maybe. But isn’t this how things have been done within families since the beginning of time? A man teaches his son, who in turn teaches his son. Down through the ages, knowledge is accumulated and passed down, strengthening those who would bear the torch of the family name into an uncertain future. In this case, maybe selfish is really a survival instinct in man’s evolution.

My Father has been given an hourglass. The sands are running. I can’t imagine what he is going through and what he is thinking about. I wonder what he is going to do with his time left. But as I think about his remaining time, I am drawn back to my own selfish thoughts and how this impending doom affects me. He has the timer, but someday I will have it. And yet even that is wrong. I will not receive a timer someday in the future. I already have it.

Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it. -Marcus Aurelius

If I was told I had a year left, what would I do? What would you do? You could make a bucket list. You could go and see all the wonders of this world. Do all the things you have always dreamed of. Making a bucket list would lead to three questions?

Can you afford your list?

I know I can’t. Give me a year, I would probably die in poverty. I wouldn’t want to work, but I would have no choice. I have debt. I like food. I have a family depending on me. Could you imagine clocking in to work every day knowing it could be your last?

Of course, this is a scenario if you are in debt in your last days. If you carry debt and minimal savings, you are out of luck. You will toil unto the last of your days, so that you and family may eat.

Why not do it now?

Remember, all of our days are numbered. We have no guarantee of tomorrow, let alone a year. Why are we not living life to the fullest right now? But you say, “I can’t afford my bucket list, how can I do this?” Start getting yourself in position today. Prepare now that your family may be covered. Prepare now that you are not working to the very end.

What is on the list?

To see the world, you are preparing to leave, is it necessary? Maybe yes, if it is to share those experiences with loved ones. If you have the means and the desire, then go for it. But what if your bucket list was less about travel and experience and contained such things as:

  • Capturing as many sunrises and sunsets as possible,
  • Spending more productive time with family and friends. Hugging a little longer. Loving a little more. These are the ones that will keep your memory alive.
  • Spending more time contemplating the life to come. Some would suggest there is no after life. That may be fine for them, but I would not rather take the gamble. If there is even a one-tenth of one percent of going to heaven, then there is also a possibility of a hell. I would rather aim for a chance at heaven, then risk whatever misery could be waiting in hell.

These three items alone may be the poor man’s bucket list. But are they not of far greater value than a trip to the pyramids or a bender in Vegas?

Get busy with life’s purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue- if you care for yourself at all- and do it while you can. -Marcus Aurelius

The clock is winding down on all of us, whether we realize it or not. For my Father, he has been given 14-18 months. What does that mean? Death stands at the threshold patient and waiting. The old Marine could go tomorrow or he could go fifteen years from now. He is no different than us, only more aware than us of things to come. He can wallow in grief that the time is near or he can make the most and count each day as a gift. It is his choice. So, it is with us, we get to choose what we do with the time we have left.

You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think. -Marcus Aurelius

The Last Day

If you knew today was going to be your last day on earth, what would you do?

For some reason this thought was on my mind as I wrapped up my morning workout. I was wondering whether or not I would exercise on my last day. Granted before I could decide, I would have to know it was my last day in advance. Otherwise, I would have already worked out before the Reaper’s blade would cut me down.

Knowing the short-term benefits of exercise, I think I would have to go ahead and achieve my peak heart rate one last time. I might not benefit from going heavy on that last day, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to get those endorphins flowing. It would give me a boost and help power my productivity to the end. The fact that I workout before the rest of the world is awake is another benefit, since I wouldn’t be taking time away from those I would want to spend time with.

What else would I do on a perfect last day? I might do a little light reading to get my mind right before I see the light. I would also write. I would probably write with a fury all those last minute thoughts that could somehow add to my legacy. Then I would spend the rest of the day with family, preferably outdoors. I would try to speak little and just listen to the voices that would hopefully permeate my soul and accompany me into the next life.

Then the thought comes, what would I not do? I know I couldn’t drink alcohol. If I justified one drink, I would probably justify a second which would lead to more. Who would want to waste away their last day in a drunken stupor? In addition, I wouldn’t watch any television, play any games, or scroll through someone else’s life or the political landscape on social media. I might leave a few messages, but that would be it. Anything that would be a drain on that last day would have to be scrapped, because it simply would not be worth it.

This is the mark of perfection of character –to spend each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, laziness, or any pretending. –Marcus Aurelius

There is so much I would want to do, and so much I would try to avoid. It makes me wonder, why am I not living that way now. How could I have so easily wasted away days, content in complacency, with never a thought to the preciousness of time? And though I can never recover the day gone by, I can begin fresh with this day and all the days to come. Few are occasioned with the knowledge of their last day, but all can live life as if it were their last. I would hope that on my last day, I could say I truly lived. Not just on the last day, but that when I woke up and realized any day could be my last, I never took another one for granted. Memento Mori.

The Frailty of Life

We all know that death could come for us at any moment. But we usually don’t give it much thought, until we, or the ones close to us, near that threshold. When we are not mindful of death, when it feels far away, we tend to find importance in things that are really not very important at all. But when we are at the gate and the time is near, suddenly the time becomes more precious and a sense of urgency to live becomes paramount.

No one knows when the time will come, but all could live in a way that when the end fast approaches there would be little left to do. Even if the mission was left unfinished, you could leave knowing you did all that you could. You could leave knowing a moment wasn’t wasted or a transgression wasn’t rectified. We could go in peace from this life into our next without a regret.

Show me that the good in life does not depend upon life’s length, but upon the use we make of it; also, that it is possible, or rather unusual, for a man who has lived long to have live too little. –Seneca, Letter #49: On the Shortness of Life.

This was one of the thoughts I originally had when I started writing for my son. That if I was to go before he grew up, he would have this as his legacy. I wanted him to know the treasure of wisdom and the value of searching for it. I wanted him to know the path I have travelled in my own quest to find it. Often I went down the wrong road. I had to learn to hard way. But an easy to find treasure really isn’t a treasure. You have to dig for it, often into the depths of the hell of your own making to find it. My dream is that he will find the path and then stick to it, not forsaking it for an easier way. If I can’t be there for the journey, maybe the writing I leave behind will help. Maybe it will even help others.


For those who loved one is nearing the threshold, my heart is breaking for you. I can’t imagine your pain, but I can see your bravery during this time. Remember, death is not an end but a gateway into the next life.