May 30, 2015 admin

PURPOSE: “I Died Too Soon!”

by April Crosby

Age 68. Fairbanks, Alaska

I’ve read your 29 May column reporting responses to your query for principles of purpose.  Much mention of “small font decisions” reminds me of the quote from Helen Keller posted above my mother’s desk until her death 35 years ago that has since hung above mine:  “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.  The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”     

A friend recently reminded me of Camus’ comment that our lives are the sum total of the hundreds of decisions we make each day.  And how do I make these decisions?  I think of the character in Sartre’s play, No Exit, who – when finding himself suddenly in hell – whined, “I died too soon!”  He didn’t have time to become the person he wanted to be. 

So I imagine… whatever I’m doing right then is what I’ll be doing into infinity; forever. 

So I imagine death as having each moment as THE defining moment: whatever I’m doing right then is what I’ll be doing into infinity; forever.  If I died at this very moment, could I bear to be doing this forever?  It helps keep me from doing much furtively – would not want infinite shame! 

And I’d better stop writing and get outside, because I don’t want to die indoors.

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