I was walking down the corridor at home trying to figure out where I’d left something. A book. I was very frustrated, and I went from room to room, searching everywhere for this book.
But I couldn’t find it. I was getting very grumpy with myself. And then an idea popped into my head: What can I take with me when I die? I can’t take this book I’m looking for, so why am I getting so frustrated and grumpy?
And then I thought to myself: Not only can I not take this book with me, but I can’t take any of the physical things around me, things that often preoccupy my thoughts. Like all the junk in the garage. Or the side curtains that are starting to fade. Or the mattress in the spare bedroom that needs replacing. Or the plants that need repotting.
These things that really don’t matter, yet I think about them. And other things too.
And I thought: I can’t take a clean garage with me when I die. I can’t take new curtains, or a new mattress or plants in bigger pots. Or the sundry other things that I think about from time to time.
So what can I take with me when I die?
When I’m quite happy to take my last breath, when I’m about to move on to my next adventure, I would like to take with me the things that matter to me – like the joy and love that I’ve experienced during my life; the love I’ve shared with my husband and my children. And the beauty of nature, and art.
The beauty of a field of wild flowers.
The beauty of beauty.
And the deliciousness of fresh and exciting ideas.
And of discoveries.
What I don’t want to take with me is anger and frustration and greed and a desperate need for more and more things.
So many of us spend our lives working hard at acquiring things that we’re going to leave behind: a big house. A nice car. Beautiful clothes, and expensive nick-hacks.
Some of us work hard at leaving behind a legacy, which is generous. But sometimes the cost of that legacy can be ill-health, or acrimonious relationships, or anger. Or disappointment when things don’t work out the way you’d hoped.
I finally found the book, at last. It was where I’d put it. Lost things are always where you put them.
And then I thought: I’m just going to forgive myself now for getting into this state of anger and frustration, and I’m going to look at everything around me quite differently.
I then shifted into a place of peace and equanimity, because I realised that none of it was important. What’s important is relaxation, and happiness, and joy and love.
These are the only really important things you can take with you when you take your last breath.