Three “Yes’s” on My Deathbed


From Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

  • Bridgekeeper: “Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.”
  •  Sir Lancelot: “Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.”

What is my general outlook on life?  Well, at least what should it be?  In the end, and I really mean in the end, when I am about to take my last breath, when the final examiner comes to ask me how I lived my life, how will I answer?  What questions could she ask to determine if I lived my life how I should have.  It occurs to me that I am happiest when each day, I set out to live so that on my deathbed, I can answer “Yes” to these three questions:

  1. Did you have fun?
  2. Did you challenge yourself?
  3. Did you participate?

These are the 3 things, when I really look deep down, that I value.  When I am accomplishing all 3, I am content, tranquil…happy.  I’ll take a deep dive in upcoming posts, but for now, I will briefly summarize.

Fun.  There is absolutely no reason why life should not be fun.  It can be difficult, and of course life is sad at times…sometimes for long stretches.  On the whole, though, I want to have fun through the course of my life.  There are steps that I can take to ensure that the fun meter, on average, is higher.  To do this, to have fun, is not a selfish thing at all.  Not only do I want to have fun for myself, I want to share the fun, and I want to be the fun for those around me.  What a great thing to have someone say about you, “I really love being with him, he is so much fun.”  Have fun, share fun, be fun.

Having Fun!

Having Fun!

“Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.” Voltaire [Thus, why not make it fun?]

Challenge.  We all have talents.  I have talents, and I also have weaknesses.  I enjoy utilizing my talents to their utmost, and making my weaknesses a little less weak through practice and application.  I enjoy challenging myself.  The universe wants me to challenge myself.  At the finish line, a life well-lived ends with the exclamation, “I really challenged myself, I didn’t rest on my laurels!”

“What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can’t stand still. It must grow or perish.”–Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Part 3, Ch. 1

Challenge Yourself!

Challenge Yourself! Play Water Polo!

Participation.  I originally wanted to call this “serving,” “giving,” or “sharing.”  But life with your fellow people is all of those.  It’s also “listening,” “hugging,” loving, contributing, and working.  However, each of these is only part of the larger part of participating.  The real question about the life well-lived is, “Did you participate with your fellow man?”  A life in isolation, is only right for a very few, maybe nobody.  It certainly isn’t right for me.  Even Thomas Merton, a man who lived a solitary life for the most part, wrote an entire book called No Man Is an Island!  My Buddhist Sherpa, Thich Nhat Hanh, speaks of “engaged” Buddhism.  I like that.  Working on the self is very important, but I do so, in order to participate and do all of those action words I mentioned above.  Participating is an act of lifelong rational self-interest, providing your world with whatever you can give, asking for help when you know you need it, leaving something of value when you can.

“When you go to the mountain and practice alone, you don’t have the chance to recognize the anger, jealousy and despair that’s in you. That’s why it’s good that you encounter people—so you know these emotions.”–Thich Nhat Hanh

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