it seems there are three universal death bed questions that arise across cultures. have i given and received love? have i lived my own life or someone elses’s? have i left the world a better place?
i’m not sure now where i read/heard this statement. it struck me deeply. is this true for all people, everywhere? does everyone ponder these questions as they come to the end of life?
regardless of their universality, they are questions i want to ponder now. i don’t want to wait until my last breaths to ask and answer these profoundly personal questions. i want these questions to inform everything i do, say, think, feel as i walk through each day. these questions might serve as daily reminders of what is truly important to each of us. they can become signposts along the way of conscious ageing.
giving and receiving love can be simple acts of kindness and generosity...a smile, a simple “good morning”, picking up a piece of litter on the road, and, of course, a hug. with each of these givings, there is an equal receiving inherent in the act of giving. a smile to a passer-by enlivens my heart equally. a hug may not be returned in equal measure, though the sense of another body that close allows receiving of the love given. each bottle left lying on the street and then placed in the recycling bin is an act of love for our planet the can create greater space, greater clarity.
receiving love asks us to be open. what can we do each day to create and maintain an open heart? we might receive love directly in relationship with friends and family, colleagues and acquaintances. love might also be found on a walk in the woods, a creative endeavour, or in quiet meditation. with an open heart, ready to receive, love is everywhere.
living one’s own life asks us to examine this life. what truly nourishes and nurtures? can we act on my own behalf, in our best interests? we must know the parts of ourselves that need nourishment and then create, to the best of our ability, an environment that can nurture. to look within and ascertain what is truly our own, not something learned or adopted, asks for willingness to face the truth and the courage to change. that change might occur very slowly, in tiny increments. or the change might come as a sudden earthquake that shakes the foundations. and in the end, via any path, there is a life that is truly unique.
leaving the world a better place can take many forms. action around climate change might inspire campaigning to change current policy. offering to help someone move house might relieve anxiety. donations to beloved charities helps fulfill their mission and alleviates suffering. singing in a choir that uplifts and inspires allows music to be a healing force in the world
the world becomes a better place as we allow love to emerge and flow from our inside to another’s outside.
these three questions, and daily answers, can become guides to living a wisdom-filled life, one lived with deepening consciousness and awareness. as years pass and as we move along our chosen path we can live the gift of these contemplations. we can live into our own graceful elderhood.