Hey all! It’s been a minute since I’ve had a chance to write – I’ve had a lot of client projects going, traveled out to Colorado, and have since been wrestling with the solar/electrical system on my RV in between adventures and work. More on Colorado adventures coming soon in the other blog.
I binged on some of my favorite podcasts during the three-and-a-half day drive out here, including This American Life. One act of the episode, “The Secret of my Death” got me thinking. In light of the recent string of celebrity deaths, I thought this would be a good topic to pontificate.
Act two of this particular episode is about a guy named Dave Maher, a young comedian whose diabetes got the best of him. After three weeks on life support, Dave’s family decided it was time to take him off. Friends and fans who had been following Dave’s status heard the news… and almost immediately, the loving words and eulogies began to flood his Facebook page.
Isn’t that what we do? Modern day death is accompanied by an outpouring of succinct social media eulogies from the bereaved. It’s after we lose someone that we begin to recall all the wonderful things about them, how they touched our lives, and how precious they were to us.
Back to Dave. Turns out, he wasn’t dead. He emerged from his coma, miraculously. After a month of recovery, Dave began to read through the hundred or so eulogies on his Facebook page. Dave chokes up as he talks about the eulogies in the podcast episode, touched by the kind words that were said about him. Some people shared emotional stories about how deeply Dave had touched their lives. Others talked about how upbeat and funny he always was. Many talked about how deeply Dave would be missed.
Dave had no idea of the impact he had on people until after they thought he was dead and decided to share their tributes on Facebook.
As I listened to Dave’s story, it all just felt tragic to me. Yes, he had survived (yay!), but had he not lived, he would have never had the chance to see the profound effect he had on people. We all want to feel valued, important, like our lives have meaning. Research indicates that selfless acts and doing things to make other people happy is wildly fulfilling – it boosts our serotonin and dopamine levels and sends us buzzing with those warm, feel-good vibrations that we just can’t get any other way. Simply put – we are wired to help and love one another — the psychological and physiological highs we get from showing love and kindness is proof of that.
With this in mind, it seems like a massive opportunity loss to wait until people die before we share our stories about how they affected us, how we appreciated them, how they changed us for the better. I think we need to give more tributes to the living – people give tributes to celebrities and idols all the time, but think about how powerful it would be if we took a little time each day to let people in our lives know how much we cherish them. We seem to save the good stuff for when it’s too late.
So I had an idea. Each day for the next 100 days, I’m going to write a tribute to friends, family members, former students, old co-workers… acquaintances of all kinds. Each morning, I’ll write a post about someone who has touched me in some way, and tag them on Facebook. Maybe I’ll share a story or maybe I’ll just let them know they are loved and valued. I’m going to choose people at random. Who knows, maybe it will inspire others to do the same. Good vibes for all 🙂