He who has a why to live, can bear with almost any how. Nietzsche August is a beautiful month here at the foot of the Canadian Rockies. Summer evening stretches out into deepening shadows holding the heat of day. Skies glower and gleam and radiate purple hues stretched along the ridge of distant peaks. The air shimmers. Dusk creeps slowly into the light.
Last evening, as Ellie and I walked our habitual path along the ridge of a river valley, we spied a murder of craws seated in the skeleton of a long dead tree. Denuded of branches, it appeared dark on gray against the gathering clouds crowding the horizon. The crows cawed as they watched me grab a photo on my Iphone while Ellie grazed in the tall summer grasses, oblivious to the crows and my desire to capture the moment in time.
We walked in an easterly direction as I continued to stop along our way to capture moments, to gaze at the view, to revel in the beauty of the evening. And Ellie, her nose alive to the plethora of smells wafting her way, kept stopping to sniff and explore the scents left trailing on the bushes and grasses along our path.
Every evening we come to the same point on the trail where we know, it's time to turn back. Last evening was no different. We reached our 'marker', I looked at Ellie, Ellie looked at me and proceeded to change direction, pulling me with her for the homeward stroll. (Or at least the stroll back to where the car was parked.)
We walked westward and watched streaks of pink and rose dance upon the mountain peaks in the distance.
In The Power of Story, Jim Loehr tells the story of a client, a top seeded tennis player who lost her passion for the game. "What's your story?" he asked her. "Why do you play?"
"To be number one in the world," she replied.
"So, you become number one in the world. When it's all over, your tombstone reads, 'she Was Number One In the World.' You'd be good with that?"
She wouldn't be good with that and so he asked her to go away and think about it. What is your ultimate mission in life, he asked. What are you all about? What keeps you playing?
When she returned she had the answer, but was embarrassed to tell him. He prodded her to disclosure and she replied, "I want to be sunshine. I want to be sunshine to every person I care about and everyone who watches me play."
"And on your tombstone, it if says, 'She brought sunshine to people everywhere,' would that be okay?" he asked.
And she said, smiling broadly, "Yes."
I read that passage in The Power of Story some days ago, and it has resonated ever since. I too 'want to be sunshine'.
I want to radiate joy and brilliance and beauty and light like the sunset this evening that took my breath away. I want to be sunshine.
I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't want to 'make people feel happy'. When I didn't want to make a difference, in a really positive way, to their lives. Even as a small child I remember this feeling of wanting to touch people's hearts, to make them feel like the sun just broke through clouds and was beaming down on them, lightening their hearts and lifting their spirits.
And that's purpose. That's living this life for me with wild abandon, whole-heartedly engaged in making every moment count. In making every moment worth living and dying for.
I want to be like the sunset this evening. Awe-inspiring. Breathtaking. Deeply moving. I want to radiate sunshine, gratitude, positive energy and joy, in everything I do, everywhere I go.
That is my glorious life story. The one I'm writing today. The one I've been planning to write for many years now but was always too scared, too unsure, too mis-directed, or simply asleep to know it was up to me to release the light within so that the sun could shine from my heart and spill out in gay abandon onto the world around me.
I am finally in that place where I have the courage and conviction and commitment to put all my fingertips, heart and soul up against the pulse of what makes me tick so that I can create wonder and joy in the world around me.
What about you? What makes you tick? What's your story? Is it worth living for? Is it one you're willing to have told when you're gone?
'Cause think about it. Whatever story you are living today, it is the one you'll die with if you don't stop and ask yourself... What's my story? Am I willing to die for it? Am I willing to have it be my final song of life?
We are always telling stories. On ourselves. About ourselves. About the people and places and circumstances around us that are keeping us from living the story we've always dreamed of.
It's time to get real. Real up close and honest with the value of your story, and how it is keeping you from living the life of your dreams.
Go ahead. Ask yourself. What's my story? What's the story behind the story I'm telling?
And then, look deep, dig in, into that place within where the hero of your story isn't a victim of life, but the triumphant creator of a story worth living and dying for.
Can you do it?
I believe you can.