5 Ways to Live Forever
A rare and wonderful man left this world recently – my grandfather (papa). In his 86 years, Papa experienced a rather “basic life”; but one that touched many people. Clearly, he did not live forever, but in thinking of life and death – and specifically, HIS life and death – I have become aware of one very important idea: how you live your life defines how long you live. Here are five ways to live long past your departure from this world. (I should probably add that this is not based on scientific research, but rather on love and introspection.)
1. Be Creative. My papa played the guitar. In fact, most memories that I have of him involve him playing the guitar, talking about playing the guitar or listening to Hank Thompson (his favorite musician) play the guitar.
He lives on…whenever I hear or think of his musical talent, or simply see a guitar. I will share his story with my kids and they will tell theirs.
What can you “create”? Do you like to write or draw, sing or dance? Maybe you tell funny stories or cook amazing meals. Sharing your creativity with others not only fills your own heart and soul with joy, but also creates a long-lasting connection for others to know you…and to remember.
2. Gather your tribe. It’s easy to say that a person’s memory lives on in his children. Biologically speaking, we are designed to have children, carrying on our DNA and passing a piece of us for eternity. Yet – it’s not just about children. My papa had four children, five grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren! It’s quite a large family gathering, but equally impressive, was the large number of friends coming forward to share condolences and warm stories at his service.
Papa lives forever because he surrounded himself with people he loved and who loved him back. People who supported him and lifted him up; which he returned in spades. His tribe.
Who is your tribe? Have you gathered special relationships that make life a little warmer and meaningful. These are the people who will hold space for you in their hearts and carry your memory. Find your tribe for a healthy heart!
3. Live in Loving Kindness. Papa was a gentle man who walked in a cloud of joy and love. He’d sit with me and I’d feel that cloud wrap around me like a snuggly blanket. The day, whether good or bad, was always just a little bit better around Papa. He’d shared his love with people and they felt compelled to share it forward, spreading like wildfire.
Maya Angelou said it best: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Live in kindness with love in your heart; people will never forget.
4. Live Mindfully. I speak a great deal about mindfulness. It is at the root of my practice and I work on it for myself every day. But Papa was the most “in the now” man I have known, without really trying. He loved a simple life. Just being with family. By being I mean BEing with us. He was content to sit, observe, laugh, and share a hug. He complimented each person on their good cooking, nice hair, funny stories. He made each person feel welcome.
He did this by being truly in the moment. I can’t recall an occasion where he complained about his past week, or talked urgently about the work he still must complete, or lost himself in his smartphone, or isolated himself to another part of the house. He was present. Connected. Mindful. And we all felt it.
Truly being present with others is a desirable quality, and it is not one that is found often enough in our society. You can be that rare person who connects with others, leaving a lasting impression.
5. Smile. He had the most genuine and warm smile. I’ve noticed a funny thing about a smile – most people can’t help but smile too. Imagine if you smiled, and the other person smiled. And that person carried that smile to another, and another. And then one day, we all looked back and realized…..The world changed, because you smiled.
He didn’t live the healthiest life. He ate fried foods (fried chicken the front runner here). He smoked for many long years before quitting. And I’m not entirely sure that he understood what I meant when I said I was “working out” (pretty sure he thought I took my computer outside). His last days were riddled with dementia and a failing body.
But in the end, these are not the things any one talked about. These are not the things that mattered. He lives on forever because he got the most important part right – – Love!
RIP Loyd Chastain, the one and only