It's the opposite approach to life - the most unintuitive, eccentric, or perhaps grim way. It's a practice I'd say you should at least try once, maybe several times if you're up for the challenge. But remember, the goal of this exercise isn't to take a stroll in your journal and have a nice little chit-chat with your ego. It's to dig deep into your roots, and ask yourself: how do I want to die? Or rather, how do I want to be remembered and what do I want to be forgotten by everyone, and swiftly wiped out of history as I draw my last breath?
It's a way to find yourself. Discover your goals and priorities. Do it before it's too late. Before your body starts to give in, shrivelling, crumbling, and withering away, just like all the things you once hoped and longed for in life. Of course, that's way down the line, isn't it? But in reality, the grim reaper could pay you a visit anytime. Maybe through a gunshot, bacteria, or the cold hard metal head of an oncoming truck in the heavy traffic of a bustling city.
Go somewhere private. This is an intimate session that should only leave room for a journal (or even a sheet of paper), a pen, and your thoughts, desires, and fears. Once you've found a cozy corner, remember not to get too comfortable. You're on for one heck of a rocky ride.
Close your eyes.
Now gently open.
In front you lies an elegant wooden casket draped with a white cloth. On the side are carvings with your name written in beautiful cursive handwriting. You remembered asking for a modern sleek design when you were 20, but years have passed since then, and so have your preferences and desires. A lot has changed since you died at the age of 87, after living a decently long life. You peer into the casket and come face-to-face with your own, except older and seemingly at peace. Finally, at rest.
But rest from what? You're about to find out. Your best friend walks to the stand, with a piece of crumpled paper in their hand. Even from a distance, you can make out the clearly smudged ink on the paper, of which you hoped was from the tears they shed in response to your death. They begin to give your eulogy. A tribute to you. Their best friend. Perhaps their lover. Perhaps their brother, sister, or twin. Perhaps their son or daughter. Someone close. A loved one.
What would they say? Or, what do you want them to say? By the time you are 87, what do you want to have accomplished? How do you want to be remembered? Write it down. Don't stop your pen from moving, not even to correct spelling or grammar mistakes. Keep going. Remember, this is a one-on-one talk with your innermost desires and priorities. Values. Just let it FLOW. No one's going to see this. Be as overconfident as you want, or as dreamy as you want. Get real. Get personal. Real. Personal.
It can go on for pages, or it could be short. Regardless, once you're done, read over your eulogy. Are you surprised at what you wrote? Now, look at your present life. Does your current state line up to what you really want in life?
Everyone is going to end up with something different. And that's okay because if we all had the same priorities and values, then where would our individuality be? Use this eulogy as your blueprint to design your life. Cultivate a new set of principles that will guide your everyday actions. If you wrote somewhere that you were a "trustworthy and honest friend", "selfless lover", "a person who genuinely cared for others, and was willing to sacrifice for causes they cared for," then make that happen! It might seem difficult at first, but it's also what matters the most in the end.
After I wrote my own eulogy on Sunday night, I was too afraid to look back at it. Could I really make all those goals come true? Perhaps I'm too afraid of the possibility of failing my life callings. I'm not taking on this challenge alone, though. You're going to be with me, on venturing your own journey in the same sea. And everyone, who has an expiration date approaching, should board their canoes and navigate the stormy seas with us.
A grim approach, yes. But the shiniest diamonds are found in the darkest valleys.