At the urging of a good friend, I started listening to podcasts while traveling. If you're looking for a way to make your next road trip thought-provoking instead of mind numbing, a good podcast will do just that.
One of the last podcast episodes I listened to had me thinking so hard that I missed my exit. And I'm still thinking about it now. Specifically, there was one line in the podcast that hijacked my attention: "I might die today."
At first blush, the thought is a bit morbid (pun intended). Taken in context, it's not quite so bad. The podcast creator is talking about how we, as humans, tend to fear death and run from our mortality. He encourages listeners to instead embrace mortality as a reminder to carefully use our finite time on earth.
So I've found myself thinking, both casually and intently, about mortality. As a farmer, mortality probably isn't such a bad thing to ruminate on. Farming is still one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Perhaps considering our mortality might help us remember to be a little more careful around equipment and animals.
And perhaps considering our mortality might motivate us to better plan for the unthinkable. If you died today, your loved ones would most certainly be emotionally devastated. Would they also be left with financial or organizational messes?
Some of those potential messes are as big as figuring out what would happen to the farm. Some might be as small as figuring out how to access online financial accounts. I realized that I'm the only one in our household who knows those passwords.
In one of her speeches, Jolene Brown talks about a folder in her desk that's labeled, "Jolene's Dead." The folder includes funeral plans, important financial information, and other planning documents. For the full list of questions to consider, visit Jolene's website and click on the article titled, "What do you want done with your body when you're dead?"
On a deeper level, our mortality should be a reminder to live fully and live for today. So often we allow ourselves to put our dreams on hold until tomorrow or next month or next year.
"Someday I'll make the journey,
Someday I'll find my way,
Someday I'll follow my heart and
leave behind this shallow bay,
Someday I'll make these changes,
Someday I'll be who I am,
Someday I'll live my dreams and
rest upon the silver sands of Someday Isle."
"Someday Isle" by Douglas Wood
If you died today, would you be satisfied with the life you've lived? Or are you still waiting for someday? If you're not satisfied with your answer, what needs to change?
Most importantly, though, our mortality should be a reminder to not just live fully, but to love fully. If you died today, would your loved ones know how much you loved and appreciated them? Don't underestimate the importance of hugs, kisses, and other everyday gestures of affection. You won't always get another chance.
The author is a dairy farmer and writer from central Minnesota. She farms with her husband, Glen, and their three children. Sadie grew up on a dairy farm in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural communications and marketing. She also blogs at Dairy Good Life.