The Fourth Quarter of Life

When I was 14, I first realized that I will die one day.

I was thinking my life was like this train ticket I had for school. With this ticket, I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted on the New York City subway. But one day, the train ticket expired.

I recall saying to myself "man, I've got to get busy. Seems like I've got some time, but who knows? I've got to get the best use out of every day I can!"

Since then, a few times a year I go through a similar exercise. The average lifespan is now 81, so that would put me in the 4th quarter if my life were a basketball game.

I've always wondered what life would look like if it stopped all of a sudden.

Did I do what I was here to do?

Did I love the people I wanted to love and let them know how much I cared?

Did I make the world a better place?

Did I make the industry I worked in better?

Did I make the people around me better?

Did I help enough people?

Was I grateful enough?

Did I thank all of the people who helped make my life so fulfilling?

Was I appreciative of this amazing life I have been given?

My mother always helped me recognize that despite growing up poor and not having everything, life itself was still a blessing. She convinced me that the circumstances were just going to make me stronger and more appreciative of the things I would have.

She said that being poor was just a money thing, and had no effect on your value as a human being. People who frowned upon us for being poor should have been ashamed of themselves.

These days, I think way too often.

We're constantly thinking of more, more, more, and then even more. It's always about how to make more money, do more things, get more sleep, more attention, more love, a bigger TV, or a nicer car. Why? Because we fear that we don't have enough, or maybe that they individually aren't enough. Or maybe that we aren't enough? I have been as guilty as anyone with this point.

What I've learned is that "what we appreciate... appreciates" (Lynne Twist).

Dying; although scary, is a really important part of life. It's a good thing. If we didn't know the end exists, nothing would get done, and I'm not sure how grateful we would be for what we have.

I recently watched one of my favorite movies; "The Fault In Our Stars", on a plane ride home from a speech I gave on the west coast. Two kids are in love and are both sick with cancer, so they decide to give each other's eulogies.

Here is a clip I found from the scene:

It made me really think about how lucky we are.

Before I close out today's blog, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that today is World Mental Health Day. I've frequently discussed the importance of recognizing mental health on this blog. If you're struggling and in need of a pick-me-up, read this blog I wrote earlier in the year called "The Energy Trap".


My latest book, Living On Purpose, is now available for preorder! For more information, click here.

Song of the Day: "Islands in the Stream" by the Bee Gees, or the cover by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton

Quote of the Day: "You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and for that I am eternally grateful." - Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault In Our Stars


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  • Brandon, being in the 4th quarter of life with 7 minutes to go, I find myself asking some of the same questions! Was I good and helpful to people and would I have made my parents proud?
    Very relevant!

    Ira Stolzenberg on

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