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The Two Questions That Can Redefine Your Life

  |   Healthy Life Style, Healthy Relationships, Life priorities, Priorities   |   No comment

Emails and work can wait, writes Anne Alexander. Love is for the here and now.


 

In a brief conversation, Frank Ostaseski said something that changed my life.

 

Frank is a lifelong mindfulness meditator and the cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project based in San Francisco. He has been at the bedside of thousands of people in the process of dying. I ran into Frank outside a hotel elevator at a mindfulness conference and mentioned to him we were starting to work on a story and would love his input. We were exploring how death can reveal what’s most important in life, perhaps pointing to what makes us happy while we’re still alive.

 

Without missing a beat, he leaned in. “When people are dying, only two things matter,” he said, his bright blue eyes piercing mine with an urgency to convey decades of wisdom. “They just want to know: Was I loved? And, did I love well? Love: that’s all that really matters.” His voice was hoarse, intimate, important. I thanked him, said we’d be in touch, and we each disappeared into the conference.

 

Frank’s two questions have stayed with me. They’ve become a kind of lens through which I try to see my priorities, big and small. 

 

Suddenly, I felt a lump in my throat. Was I loved? I thought of my three children and a kaleidoscope of images—years of laughter, smiles, inside jokes—flooded my mind and my eyes filled with tears. Did I love well? Another tidal wave of emotions—oceanic, epic—formed and crashed in a split second. I could feel a depth of love for them that drowned out everything else. (If I could have flown home at that moment and swallowed my children in full-body hugs, I would have!)

 

Frank’s two questions have stayed with me. They’ve become a kind of lens through which I try to see my priorities, big and small.

 

Just recently, my son came into my office and wanted me to follow him into the garage so he could show me his new hobby: welding. I could hear myself saying, I’ll catch up with you in 10 minutes, after doing a few more emails. Frank popped into mind. “Forget that, show me right now. I’d love to see what you’re working on.”

 

Emails can wait. Love is for the here and now.

 

  • BY ANNE ALEXANDER

 

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