Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Twelve Days To Live – Emotional Legacy

Sorting and purging my entire lifetime’s worth of ‘stuff’ was a tall order with only two (theoretical) months to live.

There was, however, some success: 

I bundled my half-composed songs and burnt them to CD.
I compiled my book and sent if off to the printer; It’s a kind of Tolkien Bestiary of Mollydays for my son Oscar.
Photo’s backed up… TICK. My computer is now allowed to explode.

And then there was… the STUFF CULL!

The unearthing process was draining, and amazing.  After a lifetime of collecting souvenirs of my travels and thoughts, I reaslised, I really don’t need to hold onto the physical mementos of past.  I know my diary scribblings were profound revelations at the time.  But these revelations mean little out of context (see tragic poetry). 
Whether I hold onto these diaries or not, I seem inescapably bound to having the same realisations over and over: New contexts shedding light on re-occurring themes.
For me, I discovered, there is no such thing as what is “True” there is only “What is true now”.

I did, however, unearth some cringe-worthy teenage poetry.  I found it tightly rolled and stuffed inside a wooden bead, then deadlocked in a box with no key.  For what, I do not know.  Perhaps I thought the future ramifications of my amazing poetry were too much for the world to bear.

*CRINGE* Thank god you can't read it!

What is really magic about things scribbled in diaries is less the words and more the moments of being kept up all night thrashing out an exciting idea.  That feeling of FLOW when all experiences and ideas fuse for an "Ah HA" moment.
Most importantly, I decided that I want to be the kind of person who always gets out of bed and turns the light on for these moments, no matter how my sleepy limbs protest.

I had a garage sale.  I hung out with one of my dearest old friends and a wonderful new neighbor.  It was a great day. Getting rid of these things felt fantastic. 

Last Words

I am now left with 11 Days to complete my emotional legacy on this planet.  It doesn’t seem like enough time, but I guess it is more than some people get.  If I really had 11 days to live I think I would be hunkering down with my loved ones and maybe having a farewell party.

I would like to be the kind of person who holds no grudges and who speaks with sentences that would stand as the last thing I ever said to people.  In this next 11 days I will reflect on the people who have impacted my life and consider what is left unsaid.

There are some people who I need to apologise to.

There are other people who I need to forgive (even just silently to myself).

I hope you will join me in reflecting for a few moments and ask yourself “If I died right now, which relationships in my life would I feel unsatisfied leaving the way they stand, right now”. 

Do you want to change that? 

I’m not sure if I do… But I’ll give it a go.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Physical Legacy – Two Months to Live

Imagine if the next time you crossed the road you were hit by a bus.
What physical relics of your life would be left behind?  Old love letters? Bank statements? Embarrassing diary entries?
What wouldn’t be found? Unarticulated ideas? Unfinished projects? Unwritten letters?

In the two months I have left to live [it's just pretend] I intend on doing a physical stock-take of all of the "stuff" I would leave behind if I were to die.  I will condense, throw-out, reconcile and re-gift.  My areas of concern are:

1)   Whatever is in my bedside table

2)   Under our house

3)   Whatever is on my old forgotten laptop

After this mega-cull, at the end of December, I will have produced a small time-capsule to mark this moment in my life.  It will include:

1)   A short book: “Mollosophy – A Series of Morals Informing a Body of Words”. For my young son Oscar.  So that if I were to die in December, he could understand my philosophy of life.

2)   Photo backup disc and album of the moments I would wish to be remembered.

3)   CD of all my recorded songs thus far for inflicting future moments of cringe-worthy embarrassment on the people I love.

Would anyone dare to join me? What’s under your bed?

What of you would be lost if you left right now?

Come to think of it, maybe those songs SHOULD be left floating in the ether...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

5 Months to Live - Life Goals

Five months to live? What had I had hoped to achieve in my life and what is still achievable in my short time remaining?  Conceiving some 'life goals' in an 'entire life' kind of way is a pretty intangible concept so I'll start idealistic (happy fun land).  Next month I'll get realistic with short term goals and a 'Physical Legacy'.

If you wish to join me and contribute, my challenge for the month is to ask: 

1) What would you like people say about you at your funeral?
2) What are your core values? 
3) What would you strive to achieve if you knew you could not fail.

What would you like people to say about you at your funeral? 

Don't worry about what they would actually say.  That's might be TOO much of a reality at this point.

So here is mine... I hope someone prints this out to read at my funeral.  Actually, all I really need to do is pay someone to read this out.... awww MAN.  All this time spent reflecting, and for WHAT!

Molly was an Anthropologist and Explorer, fascinated by people and what made them tick.  She was deeply committed to learning, never becoming ‘old of mind’.  She continuously strove to become a better person.  She inspired the people around her to think in new ways.  She was a funny friend, an empathic mother, a passionate wife and a thoughtful daughter who cherished her loved ones and made sure they always knew it.  She committed large chunks of her life to protecting the natural environment.  She was obsessed with volunteering as a key to happiness and went out of her way to help others in need.  She vowed never to take her amazing luck and privilege for granted; if she lost perspective she would put herself out of her comfort zone to regain it.  She wrote many books and made films.  She changed the world with a ground-breaking idea.  Her puns were well intentioned.  Her double chin made her more likable.  From the age of 33 she became exceedingly punctual and was never late ever again.

I'll do the super-happy dance if you contribute your funeral speech... part 2) and 3) to come


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Top 5 Moments

A Blog about DEATH?!? So far, the responses from my friends and family have been mixed.

The top elements of “What The?” were:

Why six months?

Procrastinate much? I do! That’s why I’ve given myself this fake timeline.  For me, setting a deadline is the only way I get things done.  If it’s the same for you, please join the process for yourself! To me, six months is an achievable time to get the cobwebs of my life cleaned out.

You seem so cheerful, why would you want to dwell on death?

It’s a bit weird, I know.  I haven’t really thought about death since I was an anxty teenager.  I know it’s sad thinking about leaving behind the ones we love.  But this blog is more about embracing the short time we have here and getting the most out of it.

My motivation is based on observation: Have you ever noticed how the things that are supposed to make us happy (like leading a fairly safe and secure life) don’t always make us happy?
Have you ever met a person who has faced their own mortality and suddenly grasps their fate with both hands and makes sure they achieve what they want from their life?
Have you noticed how people are brought together in moments of crisis and often develop a great sense of meaning in life?

The theory is, that realizing our inevitable death is likely to make us quite happy!
I think, in general, we are too sheltered from the fragility of our own lives.  To the point where we lose perspective on what’s important.

I know you can’t simulate an epiphany but I hope people can use this blog to give themselves a little perspective ‘snack’.

Perspective Snack:

I’ve found it very useful throughout my life to pause and mull over the following questions: What would I do if I had one month, one year and ten years to live? 
Of course, the answer to one month is very different to ten years.  We can’t live in perpetual embracing of the moment or we would never work towards any long-term goals.  A key part of our evolutionary progress is our ability to suffer short-term discomfort for long-term gain.  So in the spirit of short-term discomfort let’s dwell for a moment on our moment of death.

Top 5 Moments:

Who knows what will happen during our actual death.  Some people say that life flashes before your eyes (how would anyone know?).
THAT ASIDE My question for today is, If you died right now, what would be the five moments that would flash before your eyes?  Why five? I dunno, it’s not too restrictive, not too overwhelming. So go on, get out a pen.

To get the ball rolling, here are my top five.  They are not necessarily my ‘happiest’ moments, but those times in my life when the rollercoaster was poised right at the top, in a peak of life.  In chronological order:

1)     Seven Sisters: Staring up at the seven sisters constellation as a kid on Cirkidz tour in the Riverland, South Australia.  I was lying in the grass, staring up at the stars and suddenly I was struck by the thought that these seven stars would always be in the sky watching me for my whole, entire life.
2)     Summer Rain.  I remember running outside into the most amazing pouring summer rain storm, on a warm night with my parents.  The three of us ran down the street, shouting, whooping and completely uninhibited.
3)     Slept in a Field. I woke up in with cows walking around my head.  I was amongst my fellow ‘Wayfarers’ performers after we’d slept in a field by the side of the road enroute to a performance in a spectacular cathedral in Lyons, France.  The lovely contrast always sticks in my mind.
4)     My Best Friend’s Wedding: The day I met my future fella.  I hadn’t met him yet, but I knew who he was.  The entire wedding service I never looked at him but my whole being was tuned towards where he was standing.
5)     Nanna’s Socks: On the choppy return trip from a small-boat action with Sea Shepherd in Antarctica in which I’d been injured.  Andy was driving the boat through choppy conditions towards the Steve Irwin, I was looking down at the socks I was wearing, the ones my Nanna knitted me, I remember thinking “We’ll definitely be OK because I’m wearing my Nanna’s socks”.
6)     Almost Oscar: The twenty minutes just before the birth of our gorgeous son.  My beloved Andy and I asked nurses and doctors for a moment alone before I went into the operating theatre; We held each other knowing that this was our last moment together as just us two.

OK, so I wrote six… my list actually went on and on… It was a lovely way to map the peaks of my life so far (and it did make me super happy). 

What are your top five?  

 I’d love to see your list in a comment below if you care to share?

Monday, 25 June 2012

6 Months To Live

It is the 1st of July 2012.  You are sitting in a doctor’s office and you have just been told that you have 6 months to live.  You will die in December.  The events of the past few weeks have been ominous, mounting signs that something was very wrong.  Nothing, however, could have prepared you for the way you feel right now.  Time slows down.  You reach for someone’s hand next to you, who is there with you? Is anyone there?

You now have 6 months.  What have you always wanted to do that you’ve never done?  What emotional legacy you will leave behind: What do you need to say to the people around you? What physical legacy will you pass on to the world: Something written, something filmed, something painted, something composed? What song will they play at your funeral?

Really, you are supremely lucky.  Most people never glimpse when their invisible ticking timeline will end.  For most people, the chaos of their lives, journals, computer contents, half –finished projects, To Do lists, debts, bills, possessions will be scattered fragments gathered by loved ones.  The people who love you the most will sift through your unfinished life as they process your death.  Their conception of you will be changed by what they find amongst your stuff and your completion will be up to them. 

You, however, have been given a date, December 31st, if you are brave enough to face it, you can finally bite the bullet and do the things you wanted to do.  Follow me on this journey.  You have 6 months.  What can you do before then?

Death In December

1)      Face Death
2)      Life Goals
3)      Physical Legacy
4)      Emotional Legacy
5)      Epitaph (your life in a nutshell)
6)      Funeral