In order to make a long-term plan, each of us needs a lifelong perspective. It is easy to get caught up in life’s daily grind. We wake up, go to work, do our job, come home, cook dinner, see the kids for a little while, go to bed, and repeat the next morning. On it goes throughout the week and perhaps we have some fun on the weekend. The weeks and months can pass by very quickly from this point of view. To do meaningful things each and every day, we must first zoom far out and view our lives from a broader perspective.
We need to see the end of our life and understand what it meant to us before we can ever know how to get there. Using our imaginations, we will visualize in great detail what it looks like, feels like, sounds like and is like to be done with our life. In this way, we can attempt to experience the reality of it and take from that experience the lessons we need to plan and execute our unique, proper life.
Let’s start at the end: you are now dead. We will imagine the most visual ritual around your death: your funeral. Close your eyes. Imagine your family, friends, and colleagues have gathered to remember and honor your life. Where are they? Are they inside or outside? If they’re inside, what does the room where they are look like? Is it brightly or dimly lit? Are there candles, pictures, or decorations? If they’re outside, is it bright and sunny? Imagine the sun on your face and its light making you squint. If it’s dark and cloudy, raining or windy, imagine the biting cold and the sting of a windy rain. Are they in a cemetery or out somewhere in the natural setting of a river, the woods, or a mountain? Do you hear water flowing? Are there birds in the distance?
Now picture the people. Who is there? Which family members have made it? Is anyone crying? Look at their faces. How do those who are crying look? Picture their faces wrinkled in sorrow. Do you think they’re sad for you? Imagine two people are hugging each other, giving comfort to one another. Feel the warmth of their embrace. Smell the hair and perfume or aftershave. Hear the sniffles and the cracking voices.
Which of your friends is there? Are they sitting, standing, or kneeling? Is anyone smiling? How do those who are smiling look? Are they happy for you? Is anyone laughing? Why are they laughing? Listen to the belly-deep chuckles. Who is talking to whom? What are they talking about? Are they telling stories about you?
What people say
From a lifelong perspective, people will choose to tell certain stories about you. These are different than what they would talk about you doing yesterday. They are illustrative and narrate your peculiar and illogical human nature.
Write three stories that different people tell at your funeral:
Which family member tells the story? To whom do they tell it? How does it go?
Of your friends, who tells the story? To which friend or family member do they tell it? How does it go?
What story does one of your colleagues tell about you? How does it go?
Eulogy: Who gives your eulogy? Why was this person chosen? Is his or her voice steady and confident? Does he or she Write your eulogy from their perspective: What do they say was the essence of you? What did your life mean to this person? Were you a source of safety, difficulty, wisdom, fun, nourishment, knowledge, bitterness, comfort, joy, anxiety, laughter, play, spontaneity? How will his or her life be different now that you are gone?
Now, write your eulogy from your perspective: What was important to you? Whom did you affect? Who affected you? Which experiences taught you the most? What lessons did you learn? What did you accomplish? Did you leave anything undone? Whose lives did you change? How is the world different because you were in it? How will the world be different now that you are not?