What Would You do With Your Life if You Could do Anything?

Photo by Rosino
Life is short. In fact, it seems to rush by faster and faster. Many people give up on developing new dreams. And yet life is full of possibilities at every moment. I think it’s important to pack life with living to make it really juicy! My goal is to be able to lie on that last hospital bed and think, ‘Yes! I REALLY lived this life!’

Here is the inspirational story of Janice who started a new life at 75. I visited her just after her husband had died.

“What do you want to do with your life now?” I asked.
“My son wants me to go into a resthome.”
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“I’m too old to start something new.”
“If you weren’t too old, what would you like to start?” I asked.
“I know it sounds silly, but I would like to design clothes that women my age would enjoy wearing.”
Then she clapped her hand to her mouth. “But my children would think I’m crazy if I started something like that at my age.”

Six months later, Janice started her new business. Now, some years later, her designs have taken off and she is enjoying a new lease of life. She wrote to me a while ago:

“Following my impossible dream has changed my life. I thought the death of my husband was the end of the road, but it was the beginning of a new path.”

What would you do with your life if you could do anything you liked?

{ 16 comments }

1 Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk January 20, 2008 at 8:04 am

I’m already doing it, and have been for a long time now.

2 Mary Jaksch January 23, 2008 at 6:52 am

Hi Jean, it’s great that you are already doing what you want with life.
The other day I was talking with a friend who was planning to change direction in life. I thought about my life and couldn’t think of anything that I would like to do that I don’t do now.

The only change would be to do some things to a greater extent than now.

3 Arne January 24, 2008 at 9:03 pm

If I could do anything I would BE more. I’m 65 now and retired and on crutches after BEING hit by a car. So I’m stuck at home and there is plenty of time for more BEING. But why oh why is it so bl…… hard? I sit for a few minutes and watch my breath, then I’m lost again within my mind. It feels like climbing Mt.Everest through the snow and ice and storms of my mind. Sure I will get there, step by step with endless patience and practice and grace. The air will get thinner and the view wider….. but if I could do anything I would take a helicopter up that mountain. Cheers.

4 Mary Jaksch January 24, 2008 at 9:34 pm

@ Arne
Thank you for you comment, Arne. It seems like you’ve had a rough ride.
That’s a very important point that you make: that life is not about having or doing more, it’s about being.
Your metaphor of the mountain journey reminded me about the passion I used to have for mountain climbing. The satisfaction lay in the sweat, the hard trudge, the bl… not giving up–an then seeing the incredible view from the top. A helicopter ride just wouldn’t have been the same.
And maybe it’s like that with spiritual practice. We struggle, and that struggle is not just a touch of what we are yearning for, it’s EXACTLY what we are yearning for…just in disguise.

5 Arne January 24, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Thanks Mary, so true, thanks for reminding.

6 Liara Covert February 6, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Now there is a fantastic question! I also love your choice of image. I wouldn’t change my current pursuits. They make me who I am and further my evolution. My full answer would be to continue evolving within and through others to become a more effective medium who serves human beings to the best of my ability. Every day, I develop my skills and self-understanding which I share in different ways. As my soul journey progresses, I will continue inspiring and assisting others while I also encourage and inspire myself. Its a mutually-beneficial energy exchange. Empowering others is a way to empower yourself.

7 Mary Jaksch February 6, 2008 at 8:54 pm

@ Liara
Thank you for your lovely comment, Liara!
It’s wonderful that want to become ‘a more effective medium who serves human beings to the best of my ability. That’s really the sum total of what we can aspire to in life. i think it’s so important to unfold to our full ability and put that to use.

8 Sui un March 30, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Mary…
I met and sat sesshin with Aitken Roshi at the Zen Center in Los Angeles many years ago. I guess Susan Murphy is from that same lineage and I have found her book, Upside Down Zen very full.

9 pamela April 28, 2008 at 12:17 pm

My first time here and I’m already taken with the sentiments expressed here. My interest (and my blog Fearful Habits: Channelling a Fear-free Life http://nofearhere.wordpress.com/ ) is especially about learning to live without fear. When I read the article above, I thought “one doesn’t need the death of a loved one to take a big, daring step in life. Fear, or the voices of fear–I call them the Little People who dwell in our minds just waiting to to prevent you from achieving happiness and fulfillment–take over. Death or not–it’s never too late to take that step! Thanks.

10 Gail May 23, 2008 at 1:14 am

Hi …. I am fortunately at a position in my life at 34 where I can do anything I want now after struggling for 17 years. I just don’t know what to do – i could do anything now ……….. any suggestions? I think one dreams of being in my position for so long that when it happens you don;t know where to start. ??

11 Trent M. October 20, 2009 at 11:56 am

Very inspiring. Another great story from someone else’s life to keep me striving for a better life of my own and to know that nothing is impossible. Just keep marching on!

12 Dagmar December 10, 2009 at 4:24 am

Gail,
I am in the same situation, total state of not knowing anything. I feel like I can do whatever i like but, there is always some obstacle in. i wish to help the world somehow, but have no idea HOW. This feeling is killing me. I do not want to strugle anymore, I wish to smile everyday, moreover by going to work with inner happiness and feeling of contribution….accutally I do have a great idea. i would love to establish rest home or nursing sanatorium for retired people, in my country it would be very helpfull, but too many obstacles in there…….

13 Joseph Malo April 4, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I have searched high and low and have lost many hours of sleep on trying to figure out what I would love to do. It seems as nothing in this life satisfies me. I have already obtained a college degree in computer science, got bored and lost interest in it. Became a fire fighter, where my hopes died quickly with boredom and unsatisfication. Then I became an EMT, which, is where I am at now, and it is a great job, but I could care less about it. I just got back from a medical missionary trip in Guatamala, which, was an awesome experience, but like a match died quickly after I got back to the US. How do you satisfy that which is never satisfied? How do you live day by day if you simply do not care about anything. I am only 22 years old and I have lost all zeal for life. Just a couple years ago I had awesome dreams and goals, moving at an etremely fast pace with concrete ideas, and now I feel as if I will never be satisfied. I have conquered every obstacle in my path with flying colors, except now I can’t figure out what I love anymore or care about. Remember, I don’t care about a fancy house, or a lot of money, thats easy to obtain, I just wish I figure out something worth living for, working for, loving for….something…anything…If you have any advice, please let me know….for I fear that the passion I had for life a couple years ago has dried up.

14 julie June 14, 2010 at 12:29 pm

@Joseph Malo,
@joseph malo>>i felt what you are feeling right now..I was in a situation wherein i was thinking too much about my future, that i really wanted to work abroad particularly in London..I wanted not to leave, but id wanted to be a help to my family..I was on my IELTS review now and i am praying to get a higher band score..I just dont know what really i wanted for my life and career..I dont knw what would makes me happy..

15 Brett August 17, 2011 at 10:24 am

Joseph, sounds similar to my feelings. Engineer by schooling and trade, but don’t feel that is my complete calling in life. I am still working through finding it, but I can say the huge void/lack of satisfaction in life in general sounds like a HUGE calling that God has placed in you to see Him and his Son Jesus, your creator and redeemer. That realization and relationship has put more power, zeal, satisfaction, and energy in my life than anything else…EVER! I would recommend connecting with a good Bible based church and just seeing what you encounter. The group of young guys I’ve surrounded myself with at my local church has been an incredible blessing and way to encourage and bounce ideas like this off of. Hope for all the best for you and God bless!

16 Jason S March 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Hi, if I could do anything. I would learn and gain as much knowledge as I could. I would learn all things in math which I haven’t been always good at. I would learn different languages and use them. Basically all I would learn I would take it and use it or give it somehow.

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