Life is Short & The Courage to Greatness

The last few days following the Memorial Day weekend had me in a tangle.
A crude realization to a lingering topic came crushing in when I visited a ‘substitute memorial site’ far from my California home for a dear loved one I had to honor this Memorial Day* for the first time.

While I was sitting on this bench mourning his untimely death, reminiscing about our time together and his adventures as a US Navy Seal, I felt his presence all around me and heard his voice, reminding me that: holding on to the past is of no good use and that it’s crucial to look forward, keeping the eye on the target and staying focused on the mission.
There is greatness in everyone and with every new challenge we’re committing to there is a new layer within our Self, a new dimension, that is worth exploring. Only so can we realize how much farther we can go. Life is precious and the best way to honor it, is committing to new challenges that empower opportunities to live that greatness.

A true Sailor’s voice and I’m grateful for him reminding me of this.

As I kept listening to him and his stories of challenge, commitment and greatness, it suddenly hit me like a lighting bolt in a thunderstorm exploding right within me, bringing to the foreground that lingering topic:
Life is SHORT! And I’m burning to experience how much farther in greatness I can go.

I used to NOT think about the TEMPORALITY OF LIFE. Truth be told, I haven’t wasted a single thought on it…until I hit 49. It was the FIRST TIME I thought about a—MY—limited time here on Earth, and whether I was truly challenging my Self enough to explore and empower the untapped dimensions of greatness I knew are within me.
It was a time I had to make a decision. A life changing decision.

Of course back then I could’ve continued on the level I was and things would’ve probably been fine—for a little while longer.
I had a high-paying job I loved, I lived in my dream city, I had a beautiful home, a nice car, I was surrounded by amazingly driven, creative and visionary people, I traveled a lot, enjoyed life and didn’t have a worry in the world.
But ultimately I realized I was stuck in a circumstance, increasingly unfulfilled and actually unhappy.

My life was build on my abilities and skills, not on my TRUE PASSION, challenging and evolving my HIGHER POTENTIAL. I had closed my eyes to that many years prior when I entered ‘the real world’ and got a job to ‘pay the bills and afford a little fun’.
From then on, for years to come, I was running in circles, functioning in a highly demanding environment, conspiring against myself pretending ‘this was the life’.
There was no real progress within me and my passion was tidily put in the closet waiting for ‘the right time’.

Over the years I followed many of my dreams but life became more challenging, the work environment more competitive, and I grew little by little tired of it all.
What the hell was I giving my Self up for?

One morning I looked in the mirror and what I saw startled me: there was hardly a dim in my eyes. The fire I knew burned inside me was nowhere to be seen. I looked ‘DEAD’, TIRED and DEFEATED.
It was the morning of the 13th day leading up to my 49th birthday.

Damn! Where did the years go? What did I miss, how did I end up here? Is this what I truly want? What do I want? What is my destination? And will I still be healthy enough and have the stamina to ever get there?
Big questions. No real answers!

Was I alone in this?
I started to look around.

At the time I still traveled a lot, both for work and personally.
I made an effort to look at people more closely: everyone I passed by wherever I went, then neighbors, colleagues, friends, even family. Many had the same ‘dead’ eyes yet pretended to live a wonderful life.
I found it–and saw it–most obvious in people my age and older: the mid-lifers and boomers.

I have a gift you know: I ‘see’. Yes, exactly…remember that line from the movie ‘The Sixth Sense’: I see dead people? It’s kind of like that. And I have to tell you: I see many more dead people amongst the living than I see the living amongst the dead.

~Kerstin Ide

So what happened? Are we all lying to ourselves? Are we just waiting for retirement as ‘the right time’ to ignite that inner passion and BEcome ALIVE again? 
Is that it? Is there no more to be had from the LIFE IN THE NOW?

Sitting on this bench on this Memorial Day 2022, five years after the first thoughts of ‘LIMITED TIME’ creeping into my mind more consciously, I knew I had made the right decision at 49 years old: letting go and turning my head to a NEW FUTURE. Opening that closet and pulling out my passion to be present at the forefront of my life right then surely demanded more from me, but also allowed more of me.
The challenge was–and is–to stick with it, remembering every single day that:

…there is greatness in everyone. And the best way to honor it, is committing to new challenges that empower opportunities to live a new level, the next dimension, of that greatness.

Exploring more of what lies within [us] should never stop. When we’re caught in a rut we tend to forget about that. But the reality of it catches up with us latest when we hit that midlife funk, the time when our consciousness reminds us: THERE IS MORE to life!

Les Brown, one of my mentor’s mentor, says “the richest place on Earth is the grave yard because of the wealth of dreams and potential that is buried there”.
I promised myself that my grave would contain a different wealth:

  • a body of great age still healthy and beautiful,
  • a Soul promise of growth and evolution to greatness fulfilled, and 
  • a passion realized in purpose turned legacy well-lived.

Why those three? Well, that’s a story for next time. But here’s the thing: life is precious and it’s short. When wasted and lived in vain, there’s no way to heaven.

I’m curious, what wealth in greatness do you want to create for yourself? And are you waiting until ‘retirement’ or will you commit to change your circumstance and face the challenge of stepping into the next level of your Self now?

Dare to share in the comments and join me on the never-ending path to ‘better’. Because we simply deserve the best, every step into a new dimension of being alive.
It’s our choice. Make it count!

In honor of John.
With love and encouragement,

*Memorial Day: a US Holiday honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military

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Published by Kerstin Ide Lebenskunst

Hello, I'm Kerstin--GenX rebel, bohemian💜 and quirky middle ager (hello 55!) conquering midlife and reinventing myself during this exciting time. By sharing my experiences along the way, coupled with the wisdom I learned over the years, I hope to open a source of inspiration and how-to tips for you so that you may have it easier and feel empowered to succeed in your own journey of change and aging gracefully. Are you ready? Join the journey!

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