Ray – Life Coach!

I have often thought (as have others apparently) that we can learn a lot about life from dogs. Of course, with our creativity and dexterity, we can accomplish things that dogs would not only not think about, but would be incapable of producing any way! I cannot see any possibility of a dog thinking about boiling water and using the steam to drive machinery.

I am certainly not going to downplay the potential advantages of being human, and the invention of the steam jenny was the beginning of the industrial revolution, but we do have an odd habit of fixating on the irrelevant and immaterial. We do have a tendency to focus on things that, in the overall scheme of things, really should not matter.

As I noted in an earlier Post, most of us (perhaps all of us) have some desire to be remembered after we have “gone”.Β  If we cast our minds back to people who are recorded in history, I would suggest that 100% of them are famous/infamous for what they did. I cannot think of anybody at the moment who is famous solely for what they had materially and/or financially, and yet we are a very materialistic society. We generally endeavor to follow the “bigger and better” trend, and possibly invest more and more. It may well be appreciated when our will is read and our estate distributed accordingly but… after that?

It would be unrealistic to expect all of us to become famous, but there are no reasons why we cannot be remembered for who we were and what was important to us. For that to happen, we must reflect back on history in general, and recognize that our estate will be forgotten as soon as it has been spent, but it is what we did with our life that is likely to be remembered.

I can remember listening to a speaker, a long time ago, in the context of decision making and the time we can spend on it. His philosophy was really simple. When you are confronted with a situation where a decision has to be made, you ask yourself a simple question “Will my decision impact the rest of my life?” The answer will invariably be “No”, in which case just make the decision and move on. It is not that routine decisions should beΒ  taken lightly, but that they are put into perspective relative to the importance of your ever decreasing time on this earth.

I love the late Leo Buscaglia’s view on life and listened to many of his presentations. One that made a huge impact included the following, which was written by an 85 year old man who was dying of cancer

“If I had my life over again I’d not be afraid of more mistakes next time. In fact I’d relax a lot more. I’d limber up. I’d be sillier than I’ve been on this trip. In fact, I know very few things I’d take so seriously. I’d take more chances. I’d take more trips. I’d climb more mountains. I’d swim more rivers. I’d sit and watch more sunsets. I’d go more places I’d never seen before. I’d eat more ice-cream and fewer beans. I’d have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones.

You see I was one of those people who lived prophylactically, and saintly, and sensibly, hour after hour, day after day. Oh I’ve had my moments and if I had to live all over again I’d try to have more of those moments- in fact I’d try to have nothing else but wonderful moments side by side by side – Instead of living so many years ahead of my time. I was one of those people who never went anywhere without a thermometer, hot water bottle, gargle, rain coat and a parachute!

If I had to do it all over again, I’d travel lighter next time. I’d play with more children; pick more daisies. I’d love more if I had my life over again but… you see…Β  I don’t.”

George at theoffkeyoflife (link below) recently posted an article which included comments from palliative care patients as they reflected on their respective lives, and the messages were pretty much the same.

Five Things

There is so much evidence to suggest that our priorities can be totally inconsistent with our ultimate goals. Perhaps we should revisit what is really important to us. Perhaps we should put a value on our basic needs such as food, water, warmth and rest, security, safety and relationships, and then decideΒ  how much of our time should be spent in other pursuits.

All this brings us back to our dog friends. They may not be as complex as us, but they certainly know how to focus on what is really important. Ray has regular food, water, warmth and rest, security and a social component… and he appears to be a very happy dog. There is a message there, and it is not in any complex code!

Food for thought!

20 thoughts on “Ray – Life Coach!

  1. Thank you for this post! At 54 I’m finally simplifying and being grateful. It was a cancer scare for me, as well! Glad I turned it around with a huge lifestyle change! I plan to repost this on my blog for others to wake up and smell the coffee or tea, or just to simply be.

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    • Hi Pamelah. Thanks so much for letting me know that you could relate! Please feel free to repost as, at least from my perspective (and clearly yours), there is a very important message there that perhaps more people should be thinking about. πŸ™‚


  2. We overlook the now… we forget to make the most of the moment! We have been conditioned to keep aspiring for a future. So by the time we reach that spot, there is another future and then yet another.
    It’s a trap. I hope I find my Ray who’ll remind me of the beauty of the present

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  3. Great post! Always enjoyed Leo Buscalia. He says it so well!

    Makes me think of my brother, he left no monetary wealth behind him when he died. He had no real valuable material possesions and no impressive degrees behind his name. But he did leave a legacy of touched lives!
    He made mistakes, flew the parachute, ate the icecream and encouraged others to do the same. πŸ™‚

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  4. I agree so much! What animals and little kids do naturally we need to learn again. But mostly learn what really matters in life once we get challenged with losing what we thought was so important. I love what you wrote about being remembered. It is definitely not the physical things but what you left in people’s hearts. That way you can be remembered in a good or less good way. But also then physicals things you left keep that good or bad spirit within. Who are the people who left the most positive meaning? Artists and people like Mother Theresa, Gandhi, … They all left a part of their heart!

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  5. We say that at the end of our lives but is that what we really would do? If you are happy taking your umbrella and hot water bottle, have at it. Realistically there are few things I would change because it would alter who I am today. Even the bad decisions gave me valuable lessons. There are some things I would change but none would include more travel or less intensity on things I love which in some cases was my work. If we take stock of our lives every day and do what we want and love, there are no regrets. I agree that life is not a collection of stuff. Maybe it’s a constant refining of sense of self.

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    • Hmmmm… interesting perspective Kate. I would tend to think that if I could have my time again, and with knowing what I know now, I would certainly make some changes. It’s not that I am unhappy with who I am (quite the contrary in fact), but it would seem rather odd to not apply some of the “valuable lessons” (your words) learned the “first time around”. True I would not be the person I am today, but perhaps I would be a much improved version of me??? πŸ™‚

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