I don’t think about dying much, especially on a day like today (my birthday!). Sometimes I think about other people dying though. And I don’t mean in a murderous way. I mean like: What will it be like when my parents who are in their 80s are no longer physically with me. I just wonder how it will affect me.
Still, when we do think about death, we must also think about life. A recent blog by Arianna Huffington in the Huffington Post asks: Are you living your eulogy or your résumé? “Have you noticed that when people die, their eulogies celebrate life very differently from the way we define success in our everyday existence?”
The premise, something the Huff Post calls The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power is that we should live our lives as we would want to be eulogized, not as we would want to present on our résumés.
“It’s easy to let ourselves get consumed by our work,” Huffington writes. “It’s easy to let technology wrap us in a perpetually harried, stressed-out existence. It’s easy, in effect, to miss our lives even while we’re living them. Until we’re no longer living them.”
The idea is hardly novel. We’ve heard it before. Most of us just fail to heed it. Even those of us who have had a brush with death or have lost loved ones rarely change our lifestyles long-term. Maybe for a month or two we remember our mortality. But then we go back to our résumé lives.
“The eulogy is the foundational document of our legacy, of how people remember us, of how we live on in the minds and hearts of others,” Huffington writes. “You almost never hear things like: ‘She didn’t have any real friends, but she had 600 Facebook friends.’”
My eulogy might go something like this: “She had fun in life and faced adversity (or really anything) with humor. She wasn’t afraid to love, but she was picky about whom she did love. She never accidentally killed any squirrels while driving. But she honked at a lot of humans. She really wanted a Vespa. But she didn’t want that to be how she died. She liked living a simple life with few distractions.”
What do you hope your eulogy sounds like? Share it here if you like.
Terri Lackey is managing editor of Gather magazine.