I saw the title of this blog on the wall of a men’s restroom. The clean metal walls of the stall had only one piece of writing, poised right above the toilet paper roll. Scratched into the paint, in not so attracted font (almost hurried), were the words die sweating. I don’t condone anyone damaging property that isn’t their own, but these were two simple words that had so much power in them. It leans toward the thoughts of Henry David Thoreau when he lived near Walden Pond:
“I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Before I’m bombarded with comments about my comparing a vandal to Thoreau (although there is some comparison if you’ve ever read “Civil Disobedience”), I ask for your patience while I explain. We all breathe oxygen and consume some type of fuel to maintain life. But do you live? How many days go by with waking, eating, working, eating, television, bed, repeat? What was the most awesome thing you did last Tuesday? Can’t remember? Neither can a lot of people. Thoreau deliberated further on the matter of living:
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner . . .”
The brevity of life is very real in the grand scheme of thing. Compared to the history of human life on this earth, our 60, 70, or 80 years is only a blip on the radar. A dear friend brought this to my attention a few months ago, as he navigated the Appalachian Trail in a thru-hike from Georgia to Maine. He started the journey after retiring as a teacher in his 60s. My friend asked me to think about my life in increments of five years. It’s not very long, a relative small block of time. He reminded me that one minute you are a ten year old child, then you’re getting a driver’s permit, then you’re entering college or the work force, then you’re getting married, children, and on and on. In these small windows of time, are we making life count? Do we do hard things? You cannot know your limits, if you have never reached them. Try something that you’ve always wanted to do. When I broke my elbow during a CrossFit WOD a couple of months ago, I could not give a number to the amount of people who told me that I was too old to be doing something so silly. I smiled a majority of the time and replied, “What did you do that day that challenged you?” My arm is healing, and I now I have a cool story with a scar. Feeling alive is a lost art. Many of us just live to live. Grab life by the throat and demand that your life be extraordinary. LIVE! . . . and die sweating.
In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.