In 2005, when I was in my late thirties, I had a heart attack. In the month or so leading up to the heart attack, I was starting to exhibit the classic symptoms – pain radiating down the shoulders, achiness in my jaw and between my shoulder blades. But I didn’t know what they were.
On the night of the heart attack, I felt instantly sick to my stomach. I could tell that something wasn’t right. It wasn’t just the stomach flu or food poisoning. I remember being curled up on the floor of the bathroom wondering if this was it – if this was the end of me.
I remember being scared. I was too young. There were supposed to be a lot of years left for me to live. In that single instant, my values shifted drastically. I wasn’t at all disappointed that I hadn’t gone to the Bahamas. I couldn’t care less what was going to happen next on the TV series LOST.
What I’ve learned is that when you face a very real possibility that you might be at the end of your life, you will ask these two questions:
- Did I love people well?
- Did my life matter?
I’ve heard that others who have faced a similar situation also asked if they lived fully, but for me, if I answered my two questions well, I would be living fully.
These two questions were burned into my mind. During the months of my recovery, I was confused because these two questions seemed at odds with each other. How was I supposed to spend my time? Sometimes I’m a slow learner. It has taken me several years of reflection and mulling before I’ve come to realize that these are not separate questions. I can’t make a significant ripple in the world if I don’t love people. If I don’t love people, my impact in the world will be small. Both questions are ultimately about loving people – people close and people far.
It has also taken a while for me to figure out how to realign my life around my strengths, passions, dreams, and my message. Now I am helping others to join me in positively influencing the world. My passion is to get everyone to take hold of these two fundamental questions and to act on them. My passion is for people to find their calling, and contribute meaningfully to the world.