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.

Better Than Planned

Hope 11/16/2019

My friend started in the restaurant industry as a means to support himself through college. First a server, then a bartender. A few more years and then an assistant manager. The cost to get a doctorate in Psychology was too much. My friend stayed in the restaurant industry and is now a general manager for one of the busiest stores in his corporation. He planned on being a psychologist. Last week he said, “I never planned on being in the service industry over the last twenty years.” These days, I think he has resigned himself to be working in it until he retires. It is a lot of stress and hours, but there could be worse alternatives. And we never know what the next chapter in our life entails. What he is doing now could be preparing him for a future he never planned.

Maybe I was fortunate or just plain stupid. Growing up, I never really had a plan. I skipped around in college changing degree programs based on whatever whim I had at the time. There was no difference in my professional life either. I was a soldier, retail manager, manufacturing associate with a sprinkling of a few others in between. I plan to keep on writing. As a profession? I’m not sure. Maybe someday, but right now I’ll continue working my 40 hours and write in my spare time. I am not much different than my friend. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring or what is around the corner.

I am an ambitious person, and I do have plans. Will they come to fruition? I don’t know, but I am going to do the work and see what happens. I’m going to keep walking the path that I think is the right way to go, but I am also going to be flexible. My current stage in life might only be a stepping stone to a future I never imagined. If I get too caught up in my own plans, I might not see the better life that is in store for me.

As for my friend, I hope he does the same. This isn’t what you dreamed of all those years ago, but it is only one stage of your life. Cherish the experiences. Learn from them. See the opportunities as they come and make the most of them. They may take you away from what you planned and direct you toward the life waiting for you.

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. –Joseph Campbell

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.