I vaguely remember this game my friends and I used to play where we’d somehow figure out our pretend age when we’d die and the way it would happen. It was never anything boring like dying in your sleep or surrounded by family. It was more like, being eaten by sharks or by a tribe of cannibals, or something else that was equally wild and outlandish. It was totally morbid, and without any thought to what it would actually mean to die in such an unexpected way.
I was reminded of this game today when I heard of the death of one of my classmates. An avid climber, Brad had just finished climbing Cathedral Peak in Yosemite when he popped the question to his longtime girlfriend, who said yes. He told her it was the happiest day of his life. He then continued on alone to climb a nearby ridge. A few hours later, other climbers saw him fall from the rocks.
I didn’t know Brad well. But I knew him from years of sharing the same classes. And all I could think of was, he was only 36. He had his whole life ahead of him. He was preparing to marry the girl he loved. There was so much left for him to do. But with one misstep, it was over.
But those of us who lost touch with him were offered a glimpse into the life this 36-year-old man lived through the newspaper article that was written about him today. And it became apparent just how incredible his life already has been. Brad was a yoga instructor, a world traveler, a surfer, a climber… From what I can tell, Brad lived life to the fullest. And while there are things he’ll miss out on, and many more who will miss him, he is probably on the other side, looking at a life well-lived with no regrets.
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how to live a life without regrets, and what that looks like. When it’s my turn, will I be able to look back and say that I’ve lived life to the fullest? I think we all can think of things we can trim from our lives that are getting in the way of our soul’s true potential. Are we telling the people we cherish that we love them, we’re thinking of them, we miss them? Are we spending time with them? And how about our dreams – are we doing something every day to move toward them? Are we taking time out of our day to enjoy the little things?
Or are we stuck in the day-to-day grind, busying our time with things that are only quenching our spirit?
Life is fragile. This is what’s been weighing on me ever since I heard about Brad’s death today. Life is fragile, and it can be over in a moment. But it’s also full of so much potential. Each of us have an opportunity to make a difference, experience amazing things, smile more than frown, help each other up, expand our souls, touch those around us, and make our mark on this earth. Every one of us.
I think that’s what Brad did. And I know, in a way all my own, that’s what I want to do, too.