Make Me Immortal

Hopespotters: Happy New Year! It has been a long time since we have connected. I am sorry about that.

My reason for being gone so long, ties into today’s topic. The sad truth is I am a perfectionist living in an imperfect world and living a wonderfully imperfect life. I actually wear a cuff every day that says “abandon perfect” - a phrase I tried to coin. I wanted to encourage myself and others to not spend so much time worried about perfection and, instead, to dive right into whatever is inspirational.  My heart screamed, “Don’t worry about doing it perfectly. Just DO IT” (sorry, Nike). My head and my habits, however, pulled back the reigns, “If you don’t make it just right it’s just NOT worth it”.  This is a daily battle for me and the struggle is real for many of us, I know. There is SO much more to discuss on this topic, but I only bring it up as the preface for today’s blog: I am sorry I have been gone so long. I was waiting to write something perfect. I have decided to just write, because connecting with each of you is far more important, and I know that.

So today, I went to a patient’s funeral. Given what I do, you can imagine that this opportunity would come up a lot.  Perhaps surprisingly, I actually don’t go to a lot of funerals. First, I still have to work 8+ hours every day and most often I am not able to fit in this time away.  Secondarily, there are times when I struggle with my presence at a funeral. I firmly believe that funerals are only about the deceased and their loved ones. When the “hospice nurse” shows up, there’s a lot of lovely gratitude offered, but a bit of a shift of focus away from the real heroes of the recent battle. And finally, honestly, I believe in the hope and good that hospice provides. I believe in good deaths. The raw grief that is palpable at most funerals, however, erodes a bit of my momentum in “spreading the word”. Like all resources, I have to preserve my reservoir of optimism.

I went to the funeral today because the deceased’s wife asked me to come and I have grown fond of her in the past months. What you need to understand about today’s deceased is he was a world renowned physicist, theorist, teacher and writer. He met with Albert Einstein. He wrote about the space time continuum and I have to confess I didn’t even understand his obituary, in terms of his accomplishments. What I did get is this sweet, humble man who spoke to me very little because of his need to preserve his breath, was like Nobel prize-esque, “Big Bang Theory” kind of smart. His funeral was populated with the elite of quantum studies, students and theorists, alike.

What the funeral brought out to me, as funerals will do, is what makes one immortal?

In the month of January, so many of us contemplate resolutions: what can make be better? How can I be “perfect”? Lose weight? Work out more? Get organized? Quit smoking? Do ‘x’ less? Do ‘x’ more? It’s like a Lenten false start in mapping how we think we can be better.

My friends, I wanted to make all of those resolutions this year, and then some.  I wanted to be “perfect”. I wanted to be perfect and then wear my “abandon perfect” cuff around and pretend like my personal expectations were no big deal.  

Today’s deceased was immortalized by his loved ones for his brain, teaching, writing and then his humility, kindness, and love for his wife.  I am happy for him. His illness dealt him with the worst of respiratory circumstances and he handled it with dignity and grace.

What I, as a HOPEspotter, stood by the grave questioning was, what makes me immortal? Given my “gift for the gab” I promise each of you (that I know) that I could authentically and sincerely eulogize you. By loving you, I am SURE I know what makes you immortal.

But what I think what might make you immortal, may be very different than what you hope for your own legacy.  As I think about my own resolutions and my work towards them, I feel compelled to pause and think, are these efforts in keeping with my desired legacy?

For real, not lofty: what makes YOU immortal? Your work? Your kids? Your friendships? Your philanthropy ? As a list forms about immortality, the common new year’s resolutions like weight loss, organization, cessation rarely make that list.

I like to blog with answers and certainties. Perhaps I’d like to be a sage more than a blogger… Today’s experience, especially capitulated by walking around the graveyard and seeing the tombstones of women my age, or children, forced me to ask the unanswerable: am I, are we, spending more energy on the temporary bonuses of resolutions or are each of us recommitting every day to building our legacy and establishing our immortality?

It comes down to what Stephen Covey asks in the opening chapter of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. Picture your own funeral. The guests. The reactions. The comments made.  

And before you beat yourself up about an incompletely accomplished New Year's Resolution, contemplate your legacy and what will make you immortal.  Immortality and legacy deserve your attention and strength. Resolutions for personal improvement are nice, but please, abandon perfect. It is highly overrated.

I missed you.  I HOPE to see you soon.