Late last evening in a delicious WhatsApp conversation with Ana who lives her Purpose working with women in Amman Jordan, I asked about her family. Fine now, but her sister and mother had been in a bad car accident, no major medical issues, but it had been a huge wake up call.
Wake-up calls whack us hard—a dear friend gets five months to live, a colleague loses a baby, a too early or abrupt death of a parent. But all these moments ask of us this one important question:
Have you lived fully?
Last September, twenty women with whom I’ve worked gathered for a day in the countryside. Drenched in sun and laughter we stood close in deep connection, leaning into each other’s thoughts and sharing “juicy nuggets’ as Terri often puts it. In the last glow of a setting sun Vanessa startled us,
“When I was four I saw myself on my death bed many times and heard myself asking my older self, “Have you lived fully?”
We collectively crowded closer asking, “You asked WHAT at four?!”
Vanessa has bravely upended much of her life in a profound return to self this last year. She swept her two children off to Mongolia for a summer’s month of tents and backpacking. They rode across the earth’s vast flatness defined only by shadows under cloud-laden skies. Embracing ‘yes’ in bold moves, she fearlessly and powerfully strides forward, moving deftly, on purpose.
That night, still intoxicated with Vanessa’s four-year-old wisdom, I texted her, asking how she now comprehends this:
“The beauty is that at four, I understood the importance of the question and that the answer had to be ‘yes’.”
“What that fully means exactly was not as important as the truthful answer I needed to give myself. This yes can only come with me living me. With grasping life and taking it for a wild ride, with burning hope, with awe.”
“This yes cannot happen without appreciating the poetry of the everyday, the pathway a word opens, the presence of a friend, the love of my kids and the longing for something that is not yet but hopes to be.”
“Every inch of me yearns for that aliveness. Death reaffirmed my life. And the yes to that question is my journey to me.”
Have I lived fully?
It’s the perfect question to ask ourselves each night as we flick off lights, weary head easing onto pillow.
It’s the perfect question to ask at this season of over-getting, over-giving … everyone trying to figure out what they really want or can afford.
It’s a prefect framing for words we speak, actions we take, choices we make. Will this limit me, muzzle me, make me smaller, or by choosing this direction will I be able to answer my own question with, “Yes, I lived fully today.”
Have you lived fully? Are you living fully right now? If your answer is no, ask yourself why not. Jot down your answer. Read it back to yourself– aloud.
Is this reason big enough or true enough to keep you from living fully?
Choice is yours.
Life is yours to choose.
Live it fully.