Charles Krauthammer released a short statement this week, announcing that his cancer had returned, and it was aggressive.
“My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live,” he wrote. “This is the final verdict. My fight is over … I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”
What a beautiful last sentiment.
If you learned you only had a few weeks to live, what would you tell those around you? Could you describe your life as one that is full and complete with the great loves and endeavors that make it worth living? Have you lived the way you intended?
I think about finishing well. I even wrote a devotional book by that title. Finishing well doesn’t simply happen by chance after receiving a diagnosis like the one Krauthammer has received. Instead, it happens intentionally and incrementally as we live with the end in mind.
I had no idea how much I crave silence until my mom needed someone to stay with her recently for a few weeks for medical reasons.
She’s a TV game show junkie, so the Game Show Network is on continually. I’m pretty sure we watched every episode of The Match Game from 1978 and nearly every episode of Family Feud from the Steve Harvey era.
After the first three or four days of constant dings, whistles, buzzers and screaming contestants, I was about to lose my mind. What is the deal with contestants screaming every answer?
I wasn’t trying to watch these shows. In fact, I was trying to work, but I couldn’t concentrate long enough to do so because I was pulled out of the moment so often. By the end of the first week, I had to find a solution.
Enter noise-canceling headphones, a white-noise app and complete bliss.
But I’m not alone in my need to block out external noise.
Belle Cooper wrote a fascinating article called The Power of Silence: Why You Need Less Noise for Work and Your Health.
She points to research that says our brains are always working, “even when we’re not actively engaged in a conscious activity.”
She goes on to say, “Science suggests when we do engage our brain in a conscious effort, it actually overrides the brain’s ‘default mode,’ temporarily diverting resources to what we want to do. Complete silence, then, allows the brain to return to its normal default state and continue its processing.”
Is white noise as beneficial as silence? I have my doubts. But I find it soothing and it allows me to concentrate. It also brings my stress level down to zero.
A friend called me Monday and wanted to meet for lunch. We talked about various books we’d been reading and that led to us exchanging quotes from C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton via text message later that afternoon. The quote he shared was exactly what I needed to hear.
I met another friend for dinner Monday night, and two others Wednesday night. And it every case, we went deep into our most vulnerable places. Light bulbs went on. A tear or two was shed. And we shared quite a few laughs, too.
Yeah, all of these gatherings can get pricey. But I made a decision a few years ago to meet friends in coffee shops and restaurants whenever possible because my soul craves depth and relationship. And neither happens unless I’m intentional about it.
If you need a break this weekend, call a friend and invite him or her to coffee. You’ll leave the place feeling much lighter — even if you choose the white mocha frappe.
I'm currently working on revisions of the third book in the Mercy Inn series and I just finished writing a scene in which a character tells everyone at the inn why Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is his favorite book. It made me want to reread it myself.
The book is about pursuing your story. By that Miller means living as if you were a protagonist in a novel who wants something, faces obstacles, gets knocked down, gets up, gets knocked down, gets up, gets knocked down in rather dramatic fashion, faces a major decision, then decides to go for it because living without that one thing is not acceptable.
But what does this look like for those of us who are working 40 hours a week, bowling in a Monday night league, attending small groups or Bible studies on Wednesday nights, and watching football on Sunday afternoons?
For Miller, finding a better story started by getting off the couch. He took a bike ride across America. He hiked the Inca Trail in Peru. He pursued a woman. He put down the remote control and his routines long enough to take chances – to explore.
At one point in the book, he said, “Part of me wonders if our stories aren’t being stolen by the easy life.”
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that line.
The glorious thing is, it's not too late to change our story.
I placed an order at a t-shirt shop last Saturday morning and then went to a nearby Barnes and Noble to wait for my shirt to be printed.
I’m working my way back through Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis and settled in for a reading session on my Kindle. An elderly woman next to me began reading quotes by E.M. Bounds to her husband. After a while, she stopped and said, “That’s like nutrients for my brain.”
You know this already because you are readers, but even with all of the entertainment options we have available, reading isn’t dead.
It certainly looks different than it did twenty years ago, but we are still reading. When I got home, I looked up some statistics and was mostly encouraged by what I read:
- 76% of all adults in 2013 read at least one book that year and that number was still holding true in 2016
- 56% of middle and high school students read more than 10 books a year (probably as assignments)
- 28% of adults read 11 or more books in 2014 (with the typical American reading 5 books in the previous 12-month span)
- but the number of people who haven’t read at least one book in the past year continues to increase
I’m curious about your reading habits. How many books do you typically read in a year? I’m a slow reader and I usually get through about 20 per year.