God says create. Shape the past. Etch your life in stone, and what you make will be forever.
My grandmother, mother to my father, went into the ground on top of a hill two years ago. James Irwin Wilson comes to these Saturday dinners alone and yet not. He is the one most likely to ask if he can invite an ex-convict, or to need a ride because he loaned his car knowingly to a thief, and now it is gone. His heart struggles. His blood struggles. The man who rowed at the Naval Academy now walks with a cane. The boy who was there when a stallion was rearing and his father was falling to the ground, the boy who ran a ten-acre farm and finished high school and worked eight-hour shifts every night in the Omaha stockyard is now eighty-five and not yet spent.
Though he is trying to be. My grandfather has no intention of ending his life with closed fists.
Why I Hope to Die at 75
His hands will be open and they will be empty. I began meeting with him early on those Saturday afternoons, and I set up a camera. He was uncomfortable that first time, because I was demanding that he talk about himself, and because he had forgotten to wear a tie. I laughed in my sweater and jeans. When he turned eighty-five, he asked for no presents. Like a good hobbit though I have always said that he is more entish , he wanted to give to us. He is not in the business of accumulating, especially now, as he hears the crowd counting down. He had some birthday menu requests with pie for dessert , and then he wanted to tell stories to his great grandchildren.
That Saturday, aunts and uncles and cousins came, and when we had eaten and sung and laughed, we settled him in an armchair and sixteen great-grandchildren wrapped around his feet on the floor. He had no doodads to give. No cheap party favors. Instead, he gave those kids what they could never buy for themselves, what they could never find on their own. He gave them the memories of a boy on a Nebraska farm with brothers, a boy trying to break a wild prairie mustang. He gave them memories of his mother, born in a sod dugout in the prairie grass. He gave a crowd of mostly small people who all exist because of his choices in his moments a glimpse at a time long gone, at moments extinct, at vapor seen with his eyes and remembered.
I—and all of those children—reap a tremendous daily harvest thanks to his faithfulness, thanks to the man with the cane who has received his life with joy, and whose large hands have always been open.
Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent by N.D. Wilson
Thanks to the Author who crafted such a character and set him on his path, who claimed his heart and carried his burden. For my part, as he sat and talked, I held a camera. A time will come, I pray, when I am the spent one in the chair still aiming to give. And if I reach his age in , I hope, even then, to introduce this man to generations unborn, to give them more than words, but the flickering image of this face, and the sound of this voice.
Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
On his birthday, this grandfather is not yet done. He has more wealth to give.
Our career is just 80, hours. There are only one or two things we can become truly world-class at if we go all out. Tim Urban beautifully captures the shortness of life in this graphic:. Each diamond is one year.
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- Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent by N. D. Wilson, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®.
- Its a Long Way to Muckle Flugga.
One winter filled with sledding and building snowmen. One spring full of flowers. One summer for enjoying the beach. One loop around the sun. I remember being in high school and trying to fathom what it would be like to have kids. Now, I have a 7-year-old and 9-year-old running around the house. Fast-forward another 18 years, and I will be in the second half of my career and my kids will be out of the house. Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every year is precious!
All of this brings us to the one ultimate and timeless question:.
It particularly speaks to high achievers. Here is the most inspiring part:. Most of my classmates had married people who were much better looking… they were doing well in their career.
But as we hit the 10th, and 15th, and 20th and then the 25th anniversaries, oh my gosh, my friends were coming back not happy with their lives. Very many of them had gotten divorced. And yet a very large proportion of my classmates implemented a strategy that they had never planned to do. Everyone here is driven to achieve. And our careers provide that most immediate evidence of achievement.
We close a sale. We ship a product. We finish a presentation. We close a deal.
We get promoted. We get paid. And our careers provide very tangible, immediate achievement. In fact, on a day-to-day basis, our children misbehave over and over again. Christensen then goes on to share how maximizing the short-term over the long-term relates to his widely known theory on disruptive innovation :. And the reason why they have such a short time horizon is that they are run by people like you and I [people focused on achievement].
Here are a few examples….