Tether Your Life By Writing Your Own Obituary
by Kari Patterson
“You’re writing your obituary?!” Their husbands thought they we were crazy.
They could blame it on me, their crazy-mentor-girl who made them do it.
But the 20-foot vine was proof. We have to know where we’re going.
The idea actually came from Regi Campbell, but the vine burned it in my heart. Running along, thinking: Priorities, how to spend my time, where to invest my energy. Needing clarity, discipline. I heaved prayers between breaths, halfway through my run.
And just then turned the corner and saw the vine.
Alongside a house, a rope stretched from the ground about 10-feet away from the foundation, all the way to the second story roof, probably 30-feet tall at an angle. And about 2/3 of the way up wound around a thick, green vine.
Winding, winding, winding, straight up in the air around that rope. I stopped a stared.
It was striking, to see that vine just growing straight up into nothing, so high, clinging and climbing, round and round.
Wow. That’s amazing that they could guide that vine all the way up a 2-story house. I continued to run, down the narrow path. And in another fifty feet I found the path almost overrun: Blackberry vines. They spilled out, wild from the rainy weather, all over the path. Growing out, up and down, this way and that, threatening to engulf the path.
The silent voice: Growth not knowing where it’s going.
Both vines grow. Everything grows. Whether we like it or not we’re alwaysgrowing toward something. Entropy tells us that without any outside force we’re always growing toward chaos.
Vines tell us that too.
So they tether the vine. Make it grow straight up to amazing heights.
Remarkable. Accomplish something with all that growth. Or let it grow wild and it devours the path, makes a mess. Only to be cut down.
That’s why. That’s why, I tell myself and the girls, that’s why we tell ourselves which way to grow. Make goals. Hold each other accountable. Decide each day which way to live rather than growing messy and spilling out all over the place, only to be cut down.
So how do we decide which way to grow? It all depends: Where do you want to end?
Those folks wanted their vine to end at the roof of their house. Thirty feet in the air. Straight up to glorious heights. Awesome.
Where do you want to end?
Why not write it out? Yes, your obituary.
We did this fun exercise, a little sobering, a little odd, but so very good. We all began reluctantly and finished floored. How amazing it was to reflect on where we wanted to end. So often we think of life-goals that end when we are 40, 50, even 60. Where we want to retire, what our dream-house would be, where we want our kids to go to college.
Seems those goals are a little short-sighted, yes? If the end is at 50 then we’ll have a pretty sad downhill slide for 30-40 years. And yes, we do not know how many days we have, so why not plan for 90? If you had until 90, what would you obituary say?
Try it. Just a 1/2 page. Nobody’s checking your spelling or grammar. What would be your life’s accomplishments? What would people say about you? Include quotes from your children, your spouse, your grandchildren. Think big and be creative. I was in tears listening as we all shared, the precious glimpses into hearts, the brilliant ideas, stunning dreams.
Where will you tether your rope? Where do you want to grow? Find the spot. Tether up … and never let go.