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What I learned from dying
; What am I living for?

Nothing makes my wife madder than when she thinks I’m not doing everything I can to improve my health and prolong my days in my fight against stage 4 cancer, so when I turned down the offer of a blood transfusion the other day she confronted me with this surprisingly difficult question: what am I living for? 

Now this seems like a question, especially given the fact that I’ve been writing this column about my pending death for more than a year now, that I would have a quick answer for. 

But I didn’t. 

And more surprisingly, I’m not sure I do even now. 

The question seems so basic but it cuts right to the heart of who we are. 

The world tells me I should be living my best life, that I should be out trying to be my best so I can win friends and influence people. 

I should be striving for a better job, a bigger paycheck, a nicer car, a hotter wife and a life with emulating. 



When I was asked a similar question to “what are you living for?” back in high school for an assignment my answer was something along the lines of me wanting a live a life that was worth writing about. 

I’m technically writing about my life now so maybe that means I made it. Of course, I’m most writing about my pending death more than anything so if this counts it’s only on a technicality.

My faith tells me I should be living to please God, that I should do each and every single thing as if I’m doing it for God himself. That’s a lot of pressure in some ways, but it leads to me giving my best effort even on things that might not matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. 

Maybe I’m living for my friends and family, all of whom I love dearly. But living for others is setting myself up for disappointment.

Maybe I’m living to be remembered.

Is that a worthy goal? I’m afraid it’s an impossible one. The most famous and important people are still largely forgotten. Elvis is remembered but younger people don’t know much about him. Give it another generation or two (or four) and no one will care about who he was. 

Who was president when your grandparents were born? Even if I could come up with a name that would be the extent of my knowledge of that guy, and he got voted in by more than half of the population and he ran the whole dang country. And I don’t even know his name right now.

This whole thing reminds me of a scene in Seinfeld where Kramer is berating George and saying he has no job, no woman and no prospects. He finally says, “Is there any reason for you to even get up in the morning?” and George meekly says, “Well I like to get the news.”

Life has to be about more than just small, unimportant things. Like my wife told me, it has to be about more than just lying in bed and watching baseball. 

If I don’t have a purpose for living then I don’t have a reason to even be here. I want to have a reason to be here.

 

I believe God has kept me around for a purpose. Maybe that purpose is writing this column. Maybe these words will help someone in some way beyond what I understand in the here and now. I do firmly believe that God can and does use our small lives to impact others in ways we never see, so I’m praying that I’m impacting people whose stories I’ll never hear and whose lives might never intersect mine more than them seeing my words on a screen somewhere. 

I’m still working on my answer to what I’m living for but here is the hard part, dear reader: what are YOU living for?

By Dave Taylor

dave.hancockclarion@gmail.com

 

1 Comment

  1. Kathy Beauchamp on August 17, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    A few weeks ago, I read a tweet from writer Anne Lamott that said:

    “ I remind myself nearly every day of something that a doctor told me six months before my friend Pammy died…. ‘Watch her carefully right now,’ she said, ‘because she’s teaching you how to live.”

    I think about that every time I read one of your columns now…. I appreciate that you’ve written this column… thank you for teaching all of us how to live.

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