Life: A Splendid Torch

By December 2, 2016Musings

a-splendid-torch“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”  George Bernard Shaw

I love this quote.  It speaks to a life fully lived, experienced in all its glory with a purpose and a passion to glow brightly while on this planet, and to leave it better for having shone your own unique flame.

Are you burning brightly?  Are your actions matching your dreams, your wishes and your hopes, not only for the here and now, but for the legacy you’ll leave?

I got to thinking quite a bit about this lately.  As I’ve roamed the blogosphere, I’ve seen the words of wonderful people who are tired…overwhelmed…frustrated…somewhat defeated.  And others who have felt those feelings, but are surmounting them by drawing back, re-evaluating and re-prioritizing.

It put me in mind of a wonderful book, “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, and in particular, his lecture and his chapter, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”.  If you haven’t read this wonderful book, I highly recommend it.  And if you have, maybe it’s time to go back and re-read it.  I assure you it will bring many ah-ha moments and reflections.

I’m a big believer in the slow-down-to-speed-up philosophy of life.  The stop to smell the roses, take the extra moments with a friend, ask “why”…why am I doing what I’m doing?  Am I making a difference?  Am I happy?

Over the years I’ve collected questions: questions that help me keep on track and ponder my actions.  They help me see if I’m burning brightly, hiding my light, dimming my light or extinguishing it completely.  Here’s just a few to ponder:

  •  If you never had to think about money, and every financial need you could ever have was taken care of, what would be your life’s purpose?
  •  If you had only months to live, would you be doing what you’re doing?
  • What have you always wanted to do, but never done?
  • What are you really good at?  What are the things that you most take for granted in yourself, but others always compliment or acknowledge?  Are you capitalizing on those skills and talents?

That last question is one of the first I ask my clients to answer, because the things we take most for granted in ourselves are often actually the skills that are often our most powerful and marketable.  By not recognizing them, we dim our own lights.  By thinking “anyone can do that” or “everyone knows that”, we diminish our own uniqueness.  And our uniqueness is one of the best gifts we can share.  As George Bernard Shaw said: (yes, you can see I’m a fan)

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

Don’t let your ideas be brief candles.  Let them burn brightly.  Don’t worry if someone will agree or disagree, like or dislike them.  Just let them out.  The results will take care of themselves.

As my mentor, Jack Donahue, American-born Canadian Hall of Fame men’s National Basketball Coach said:

“Take what I say and chew it around.  If you don’t like it, spit it out.  But at least chew it around for a while.”

Happy chewing…:)

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  • I like those questions and thinking about what I would do if money were no object or if I only had months to live. Helps me focus on whether I am living the life I want to.

    • I think it’s so important for us to take a moment to reflect on whether or not we’re living the life that most enriches us and those around us. Cheers!

  • Love the “apple exchange” 🙂 Never thought of it like that but it’s very cool! You ask tough questions, my friend. the toughest of all, the one I like the best, is WHY!? Seems like between you and me, we are asking a lot of questions lately, which is always a good thing. Life thrives on curiosity.

    • When we stop questioning, we stop growing. Questions are good. One day I’ll share the story of an interview I had with one of my son’s kindergarten teachers who was quite distressed by his question: ‘but why do I have to sit in the circle?’
      That’s my boy! Cheers!