What Will You Take When You Leave?

13 Apr
by Jenny, posted in Off Topic   |  30 Comments
Life ring

Photo credit: DanBrady

When I sat down to write tonight I didn’t have a clue what to say. My writing routine was disrupted when I had to work very late last night for my *real* job, and tonight I was feeling tired and uninspired. As luck would have it, my Twitter stream led me to my favorite vlog, Your Great Life TV, where I discovered Bernardo’s recent video titled, What’s in Your Final Backpack?

And voila. I’m now inspired to write.

Bernardo’s video was about discovering what we’re taking with us when we leave this place (Earth, life, etc.), in the way of experiences and personal relationships. He talks about a one dollar bill that he found in the wallet of a loved one that recently passed on. He said that the dollar could have been one million dollars and it wouldn’t have mattered. He’s right.

How much time do most of us waste working for, shopping for, planning for, and yearning for material or monetary *crap* that simply becomes someone else’s problem (or blessing) when we pass on?

Assuming we believe we’ll eventually leave this physical plane and pass into heaven, or a higher dimension, it’s reasonable to expect that what we’ll take with us when we go is what has been imprinted into our minds throughout this life. Not what’s collecting dust in our curio cabinets.

How are we spending our time?

Lately, I’ve been pretty entirely focused on creating the money needed to pay off my debts, so I can live life more simply, so I can enjoy my time here more fully, so I can create more freedom in my life, so…whew. I can forget to slow down and take a breath. Right. Now.

How about you?

Now, I’m not suggesting that you abandon your plans to payoff your debts or achieve your goals. I’m only suggesting that you take a step back, and access what’s important for you to take with you for eternity.

I’ll give you a hint — it’s probably not that new car/house/trip/outfit you’ve been dreaming about.

Once you figure out what it is that makes your soul swell with happiness, make time for it in your life. Is it helping others achieve their goals? Great. Promote and support the people you believe in. Is it creating visual art? Make time for painting or photography. You get the point.

You’ve heard this old adage before I’m sure. It goes something like this: When you’re on your deathbed, you’re not going to regret not working harder for that promotion you’re obsessing over now. You’re going to wish you had spent more time with your family and friends.

What do you want to take with you when you go?

P.S. You may notice that you can now subscribe to the comments on this blog. Thanks goes to Robert from Untitled Minimalism for his recent post that encouraged me to add this feature. I hope it improves your ability to remain a part of the conversation here if you so choose!

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30 Responses to What Will You Take When You Leave?

  1. Great post, as usual.

    I hope I make time for simply being. There’s no requirement to do anything. And since you can’t take anything with you, I hope I end life with very few possessions. They get in the way of happiness along the way.


    • Hi Gip – Thanks. :)

      I love your plan to end life with very few possessions. I’d be willing to bet that many people plan to do the exact opposite of that. But, all of our possessions just becomes a loved one’s burden when we leave this life.

      And most of the possessions we own do get in the way of happiness and living life to the fullest. Either by requiring that we work longer and harder to continue paying for them, or requiring that we use our time caring for and maintaining them. There is so much we could do without — and never miss!

  2. Jenny,

    I am honored to have inspired your post but even more grateful to have reminded you to look inside for what is true and lasting. I know this concept (of spending more energy on shit that matters and less on impermanent crap) is easier said than done but I also feel that all of our lives deserve that extra degree of intention that will allow us to give more, be more, feel more, hug more, love more and ultimately die, completely given. I wish you an amazing day my friend and thank you for making this message your own :) -Bernardo

    • Hi Bernardo!

      You’re vlogs are just fantastic. I love how I always see things with a bit more clarity after watching one of your videos.

      P.S. I’m still waiting for my opportunity to “get ridiculous” and throw water in the face of a friend. And just you know, I’m totally going to blame you afterwards! ;)

  3. Great, thoughtful post. This is the kind of stuff I love discussing but lack the patience(I’m finding since starting my blog)to write out in a clear and organized manner.
    When my mom was in cancer treatments, I was waiting for her in the cancer ward, and there was this kid, probably 10-11 sitting across the way from me, curled into a ball and in so much obvious pain, I completely teared up and felt ashamed that I should ever complain about anything. I asked his mom about him and she told me he had little chance to make it. 11 short years, that much pain then death. It burned such an impression into me, I’m thankful for every healthy, functioning moment I have and try to make sure I’m not wasting my life on society’s hamster wheel. I’m not sure about taking anything when I go, or what exactly I’m after in the end, but I would like to enjoy the life I have with my sweet sweet wife and be as kind and giving to others as I possibly can along the way.

    • Hey Anon! I’m so sorry to hear your mom had to go through cancer treatments. Both of my grandmas went through that and it was so hard.

      11 short, painful years is not enough life! You’re so right, it relaly puts things into perspective when you see/hear something like that. I would say you’re doing a darn good job of living your life to the fullest. ;)

  4. Timely post for me to read in the face of paying off debt and an overseas move. It is hard to keep the balance when you are passionately focused on achieving a big goal.
    I keep reminding myself that what keeps me happy and focused and relaxed are easy small things in my day: preparing a healthy meal, a brisk walk, an hour spent relaxing by myself with a good book, playing with my son, good conversation with loved ones. Inexpensive but joyful and soul nourishing.
    Thanks for this lovely post =)

    • Hey Rachel!

      I can only imagine the focus you need to maintain in order to sell everything and move overseas!

      The small things during your day that make you happy sound wonderful. :) We all just need to remember to make times for those little things that make us happy…and recognize them when they’re happening. Sometimes I don’t realize how happy I was until after the fact. Obviously, this isn’t ideal. ;)

  5. So very true! We almost lost my husband 2.5 years ago due to a brain aneurysm. We look at things a bit differently now. We are less concerned with accumulating and more concerned with sharing and giving back and helping others (not just monetarily). We enjoy spending time with our family, kids and grandkids. We make time for these things as we have decided that they are what’s important to us.
    Thanks for the reminder!

    • Hi Bernice,

      Yes, I can imagine a brain aneurysm would be a game changing event in your lives. It’s awful that you had to go through that, but it’s great that going through it helped you to prioritize the things in your life that are truly important to you.

  6. I’m reminded of two things….

    The first was a story about a guy at a church. The church needed a new building of some sort (or an addition, or something – I’m a bit fuzzy on the details). The guy in question was reasonably well-to-do, and said that he was going to leave the church the money in his will. Years and years went by, the need grew more pressing, and eventually somebody looked at him and said (jokingly!) “so when are you planning to die?”

    The guy thought for a minute, and wrote the check to the church right then.

    The other thing is a financial advisor that said something along the lines of “why are you waiting until you die to give things to your children? Give it while you’re alive! You don’t want to die with an estate; you want to die broke. Your last check should be to the undertaker, and ideally *that should bounce*.”

    Good advice there. :D

    • Hey Robert,

      Okay, your comment about the check to the undertaker bouncing cracked me up! I guess I feel a little bit differently about money than I do material possessions. To me they’re much different.

      Enough money in some mutual funds that allow me to live off the interest = freedom.
      Too many material possessions that suck my time and freedom to care for = restriction.

      So, for me money buys freedom. This also means that the less money I need to be comfortable, the faster I’m able to be financially free. :)

      • Your philosophy sounds very much like the one in “Your Money Or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez.

        I’m actually in your boat – I’d like to have a small amount of money in investments that I could live off the interest on. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but it’s a useful goal.

        I just mentioned the couple things above because they tied in with the “end of life” theme, and they’re fun anecdotes.

        • “Your Money or Your Life” is actually one of my favorite books Robert. ;) Except, I’m not a fan of bonds. I’d rather take a little risk with well managed mutual finds and hope for a return that outpaces inflation a bit. :)

          They are great anecdotes! I just wonder if I would do the same as the two individuals in your anecdotes, ya know? If I’m living off investment interest, I’m probably not going to want to touch the principle and risk not having enough interest to live on going forward — even if I did want to be able to provide a large chunk of money to a charitable organization. Okay, I’m totally over thinking this and sucking the fun out of the anecdotes. Geez! I need to lighten up! ;)

          • Tracy G

            I’m with you, Jenny. It’s important to live in the moment, and it’s good to be reminded of that.

            And yet…I see little that is charming about dying broke. People who don’t set aside sufficient reserves for hard times or old age run the risk of becoming a burden to their families or society. I offer that as an observation, not a judgment. Still, I cringe when people joke around about their kids taking care of them in their dotage. I don’t have any children. Actually, my husband and I will become the legal guardians for his elder brother when his parents are no longer able to do so. So we must be able to look after our own concerns plus at least one other adult’s in our retirement.

            We’d have to be pretty stupid to avoid preparing for that now.

            (Incidentally, I checked out Your Money or Your Life after seeing it on your recommending reading list a while back. Since I’m already out of debt, I skipped ahead to the investment part. The advice favoring bonds to the exclusion of all else is wack.)

            • HI Tracy – I completely agree with you. I don’t need to die rich, but I don’t ever want to become a burden to my children or society. In fact I want to have the financial flexibility to help my children out with school and such, and leave them an inheritance when I go.

              I loved the concept of voluntarily simplicity presented in Your Money or Your Life, but like you said, the investment advice didn’t make a bit of sense to me. Investing in all bonds is pretty much financial suicide. You would be lucky to keep pace with inflation, let alone come out ahead. So, it wasn’t so much the financial advice I took away from the book, but rather the lifestyle and mindset the book presented. It just helped push me to really look at the way I spend my time and energy.

            • Tracy,

              Your point is so specifically what we’re facing right now! I would love to be back in Arkansas in our little cabin, but we’re hanging out with Patrick’s momma because in her retirement she can’t cover her bills. It’s a strange financial system we live in.

              I did like Robert’s anecdote though! It’s funny how many different ingrained belief systems we carry on the subject of money. For many years I followed the belief that money was, if not entirely evil, then still not entirely good. I’ve done a lot of personal retraining to realize that money is simply energy. I would love to be wealthy enough to share large amounts with charities and still have enough to live on my interest!

  7. Excellent post, Jenny! Very thought provoking.
    Actually, I’d only like to keep my kids, but I don’t think they’d appreciate being stuffed in a backpack bound for the hereafter. :)

    • Ha, ha. Yeah, your kids might get a little resentful if they’re crammed in a backpack Nenette!

      Whoa, do I see a car-free CommentLuv link to your blog? I’m headed over now! ;)

      • Thank you so much for your comment and sympathies. :) I will definitely blog about my car-free adventures.

      • Michael, I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but, in case you’re wirnenodg why nobody seems to want to pay you for what you write, the time has come for some self-reflection.Alexander Litvinenko was murdered for what he wrote, Michael. You know that, and you also know that the book is banned in Russia. You also know how to use a search engine. One more thing you know how to do is ruin what small amount of credibility you had with sophistry.I understand that you’re a Putin supporter, and I’ll even give you the benefit of the doubt by saying that you once naively believed that he was a good man who would do good things for Russia, just as so many believed the same about Hitler and what he would do for Germany. But now the gig is up.

      • Your article perfectly shows what I needed to know, thanks!

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  9. Hi Jenny, you were right we were thinking the same this week. So true that we can get lost in working towards our futures and forget so much about living in our presents.

    Thanks for the reminder to make time for what matters in our lives at this moment.

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