How Did You Die?

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way

With a resolute heart and cheerful?

Or hide your face from the light of day

With a craven soul and fearful?

Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,

Or a trouble is what you make it,

And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,

But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that?

Come up with a smiling face.

It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,

But to lie there — that’s disgrace.

The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;

Be proud of your blackened eye!

It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts,

It’s how did you fight — Β and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?

If you battled the best you could,

If you played your part in the world of men,

Why, the Critic will call it good.

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,

And whether he’s slow or spry,

It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,

But only how did you die?

~ Edmund Vance Cooke

1866-1932

Our time here is so precious. So limited. And every once in a while it’ll hit me:

Wow. One day I won’t be here.

Does that ever happen to you? Most recently that reality set in when my favorite uncle passed away. Sadly, it often takes a death in the family or major catastrophe to shake us out of our daily stupor long enough to perhaps reprioritize our goals. Realize what really matters to us.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our daily lives. There’s lots going on. Jobs that consume all our time, energy, and thought. Bills that steadily loom over our heads. Just dealing with all the stress our modern-day society provides. But thankfully we have artists like Cooke that remind us of the deeper meaning of life. He begs us to examine how we are living our lives.

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way with a resolute heart and cheerful? Or hide your face from the light of day with a craven soul and fearful?

That it’s not about how well your work was received but that you gave it your all.

If you battled the best you could, if you played your part in the world of men, why, the Critic will call it good.

To take a look at the bigger picture. That one day this will all end and we’ll be just a memory that lives on through the lives we touched here on earth.

Notice he doesn’t focus as much on the why or what you do but how. A reminder that on the way to where we’re going, let’s make the most of where we are.

How are you choosing to fill your days? The time you spend with your spouse and children? Your attitude toward your work?

Sometimes we need to be reminded of our mortality in order to create our destiny.

Photo courtesy of summitpost.org

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