In just 5 minutes, an EMT reminds us what really matters
Posted by jenlocati
In this brief insightful TED talk, a veteran EMT, Matthew O’Reilly,
reminds us what really matters at the end of our days- whether you die of old age surrounded by loved ones, or your death is a sudden event and your last moments are spent under the watchful gaze of a stranger. Almost universally, a few simple themes come up in those final moments- Forgiveness, Remembrance, Meaning.
And so, this talk presents us with an opportunity. Will you hold up the mirror this talk gives you? It might feel a little scary at first- what if you don’t like the answers? Well, if you are reading this- it’s unlikely you are experiencing your final moments (as great as this blog is), so you have time to change the answers, if you find them wanting.
According to Mr. O’Reilly (and many others), the questions or reflections that your imminent demise surface are:
1. Forgiveness. Whether named a regret or a sin, is there something you are doing or have done that you will seek amends for? The particularly poignant example that he shares is almost apocryphal, “I wish I had spend more time with my children and grandchildren.” So, what are you doing (or not doing) that you might regret?
2. Remembrance. Will anyone (whether an EMT, a Dr., family, or friends) remember me? We want to continue to exist in someone’s world, hopefully as a cherished memory.
3. Meaning. Philosophers and religions have sought to answer (or create answers) to this profound question for thousands of years. But I think in our final moments, our conception of “meaning” is far more intimate- Did I spend my time well? Did I make a difference in someone’s life?
What these questions tell me is something that the amazing Brene Brown (reigning champion of TED talks and a personal inspiration) has so eloquently illuminated- humans crave connection. We are fundamentally wired to desire meaningful connections with others.
So, let’s use this talk to look in that mirror and ask those questions. Maybe do it once or twice a year. Maybe before you say “I do” or take that next job. Are you making decisions and living your life in a way that will give you satisfying answers when it is your final time to ask these questions of yourself.
The answers may be different for everyone- but asking these questions and particularly discussing them with your loved ones and friends will undoubtedly give us what we ultimately crave- DEEP, MEANINGFUL CONNECTION with people we care about.
These insights also make me think of things that have never been said. No one has ever said, “I wish I had less empathy for others,” or “I wish I hadn’t wasted time being kind to others.” Time spent devoted to others, even in the smallest gestures or moments, is time well spent.
Mr. O’Reilly begins his talk with an incredibly comforting observation- people are peaceful in their last moments. Acceptance comes easily, which is a profoundly freeing idea. Even if it’s hard to imagine now, it’s reassuring to know that your final moments will be moments of peace and acceptance.
As always, thanks so much for reading and sharing! I love your feedback, comments, and appreciate you spending these few minutes with me!
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About jenlocatiJENNIE LOCATI started her blog, WYS Words as a way to share her experiences as a professional woman, wife, mother, and irrepressible “do-gooder”. Her diverse life experiences have taken her to Kenya as a Peace Corps volunteer, the trading floors of Wall Street, to PATH, and most recently back to Microsoft, where she works in product development. Jennie shares her many misadventures, occasional insights, and unique perspectives in a voice that is self-deprecating, honest, and authentic. Read more at www.wyswords.com
Posted on September 27, 2014, in Big Ideas and tagged Acceptance, Brene Brown, Dying, Empathy, Family, forgiveness, friends, Kindness, life, love, Matthew O'Reilly, Peace, Remembrance, TED. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.