In Leo Tolstoy’s, The Death of Ivan Ilich, the title character asks himself a question with which none of us will ever want to confront ourselves. At the very end of the story, when faced with his mortality on his death bed, Ilych asks himself, “Was my whole life wrong?”
See, Ivan had been brainwashed by some of the same powerful conditioned lies to which we are all subjected. One in particular was that it was important to make the acquisition of wealth and power the top priority in life. This is true despite his high level of intelligence. Intelligence, as defined conventionally, traditional intelligence (IQ), is really irrelevant when it comes to the power of conditioning. Even the “smartest” of us are as vulnerable to conditioned lies. (Real freedom resides in the intelligence that permits one to self-inquire.)
So Ivan spent his life becoming rich and powerful – without ever being authentic with himself about WHY. But when he realized he was terminally ill, that we was facing death, he reached a terrifying clarity. He became clear that he had used his entire adult life in a way that simply was not his own. He hadn’t chosen his own path. He didn’t ever stop to ask himself the question, “Is my life as I truly want it to be?”
Regardless of what I have been doing with my life, regardless of my experience, regardless of what I have believed to be important up until this point and regardless of my age – what do I want my life to be about NOW? I want to be open to the possiblility that my truth warrants an entirely new course. I want to be open to the possibility that my truth has evolved and that it may be time for at least a subtle shift in trajectory.
Note the word “use” in the question. It’s powerful in that context. How do I want to USE the rest of my life?
Schedule two hours in the near future – sacred uninterrupted time – where you can’t be distracted by phones, people or computers – and reflect intently upon the question.
If you think about legacy and the footprint that you’ll leave behind, it’s helpful to remember this: the world needs you to be living your life in accordance with your truth. Because when you are, you have nothing but grace and mastery, compassion, empowerment and support to offer. When you live your life in the way that is most profound to YOU it is most profound to the world and your contribution couldn’t be greater.