Have you been to a funeral? I’m guessing most of you have by now. It hurts, right? I remember going to the funeral of a close family friend who died unexpectedly and to the funeral of another family friend who died in an accident.
I imagine these funerals were much like ones you’ve gone to. Heartbreaking, and filled with family and friends mourning the loss of their loved one.
And filled with individuals listening intently to poignant eulogies that capture their loved one’s personal and professional accomplishments and the difference they made in peoples’ lives.
As we listen to these eulogies, we promise ourselves that we’re going to be better, live fuller, reach out to family and friends more, do this or do that… more.
Except, how many of us actually do?
How many of us treat these promises like New Year’s resolutions that we get all excited about at the beginning of the year, but lose enthusiasm far too quickly?
And why does it often take a funeral to get us to live our lives like we should all of the time?
Well, I had my own similar lesson 4 years ago and I call that my funeral. It was an accident along the Chikhwawa escarpments.
Imagine a big explosion as you descent through a 120 m cliff. Imagine a car full of opened paint tins inside. Imagine an engine going clack, clack, clack. It sounds scary. Well, I had a unique experience that day. I was the driver. I was the one in control and my friend Dan was on the passenger's seat. So I looked at him right away, and I said No word.
We had already negotiated more bends, and we
weren't that far to Chikwawa from. Blantyre. You could see Kamuzu Bridge in Chikwawa from the hills.
In a space of a minute, three things happened at the same time. I could hear the sound of gravel on the left front tyre, there was a tree in front of me and it was certain that I had missed the road! I braced for impact. I didn't have to talk to the passenger anymore.
I could see in his eyes, it was terror. Life was over. We were destined for an overturn, car wrecking into pieces and into possible flames! This was our death spot.
Now I want to share with you three things I learned about myself that July day.
ONE: I learned that it all changes in an instant. We have this bucket list, we have these things we want to do in life, and I thought about all the people I wanted to reach out to that I didn't, all the fences I wanted to mend, all the experiences I wanted to have and I never did. As I thought about that later on, I came up with a saying, which is, "I collect bad wines." Because if the wine is ready and the person is there, I'm opening it. I no longer want to postpone anything in life. And that urgency, that purpose, has really changed my life.
TWO: The second thing I learned that day -- and this is as we glide into the rock we finally hit and saved our lives, I thought about, "wow, I really feel one real regret. I've lived a good life. In my own humanity and mistakes, I've tried to get better at everything I tried. But in my humanity, I also allow my ego to get in". And
I regretted the time I wasted on things that did not matter with people that matter.
And I thought about my relationship with my family and with my friends, with people. And after, as I reflected on that, I decided to eliminate negative energy from my life. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better. I've not had a fight with anyone in 4 years. It feels great. I no longer try to be right; I choose to be happy.
THREE: The third thing I learned -- and this is as your mental clock starts going, "tick, tok, tick...."
You can see this rock in front of you and I'm thinking, "this is where my life ends up." I don't want this thing to go into smoke like you've seen in those movies. And as we're coming down, I had a sense of, "wow, dying is not scary". It's almost like we've been preparing for it our whole lives. But it was very sad. I didn't want to go; I love my life. And that sadness really framed in one thought, which is, I only wish for one thing. I only wish I could have made more impact with my life. I realized at that point, by connecting those two dots, that the only thing that matters in my life is being a person who touches the hearts of others and who is free. Above all, the only goal I have in life is to be a free person.
I was given the gift of a miracle, of not dying that day. I was given another gift, which was to be able to see into the future and come back and live differently. I challenge you guys that are driving today, imagine the same thing happens with your car -- and please don't -- but imagine, and how would you change? What would you get done that you're waiting to get done because you think you'll be here forever? How would you change your relationships and the negative energy in them? And more than anything, are you being the best person you can?
Are you independent about your lives or your life depends on other peoples approval?
Dennis Imaan is a Global Citizen born and currently staying in Malawi. He loves to share his experiences and lessons with others. Travel, Tourism, Innovations, Media and Youth development are close to his heart.