“All lives end in suffering and tragedy” says the ferryman (1:24)

This isn’t a movie review.  I was watching Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief with my children last week and heard the ferryman say this as they traveled into what equates to hell.   Unfortunately,  this one line struck a chord with me.

Ferryman on the river to the underworld

We all experience some form of suffering and tragedy.   This is what makes for a good novel or movie, but the only reason is because we can relate.  Some people look to religion for their answers, others look inward or other places.

It brought for me to light this concept of value over success.  Many religions teach that if we follow a certain path or believe in specific things that we will find that when the last chapter of our lives close a new chapter of our existence will begin (a new book).

This isn’t a connected story though.  The end of one book is the beginning of another.  As I have gotten older, I have personally seen lives end in suffering and tragedy.   As a matter of personal record,  I can’t think of anyone that I know of that didn’t end in some form of suffering or tragedy.   There is the great possibility that when we leave this world that we will enter another, although we don’t go as we are, we go as something else.

I am walking the line of writing about religion here and that is not my intent.  I am more interested in recognition of the end of our lives and what it means relative to who we are and what we are doing today.  I think a lot of us are blind including me most of the time.  I know that this is a detour from what I normally write about but it does relate to business.

Today there are all sorts of manifesto’s for our work in technology.  The “Agile” and the “SOA” and the Business.. but there are others that are less known.  http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-awesome-inspirational-manifestos.html

Have you ever heard that “It’s not a matter of if but what and when?”  Maybe that should be a bumper sticker or something.  If you know that your last day is tomorrow, how would you treat people today?  Would it be different?  If so, why?  I am not asking about regrets, I am asking about choices.   We have a responsibility to each other, regardless if we want to recognize it or not, we are all connected.  We also should note that there is a good chance that when our lives end, along with it will be suffering and tragedy.

How do you feel about your value over what you believe is success?

What do you hope to really accomplish by the time you realize the answer to this question?

Are you doing the things you need to do today to get there?

If not, why?

I recently went up against a personal roadblock that forced me into making this very choice / distinction.   None of this is easy but as the recently deceased Covey has said “Begin with the end in mind.”  I believe that we should all practice our lives with the end in mind.

What do you think?

3 thoughts on ““All lives end in suffering and tragedy” says the ferryman (1:24)

  1. I know this isn’t about religion; but a story I heard today by my priest seems to resonate with your comments. A grade school class had a show and tell day about each of the children’s fathers. Only a few fathers actually made it to the class room; but each of them had to explain how great their dads were even if they were not present. Each one stood up in the class and praised how great their fathers were; they were great doctor’s; great lawyers; great business men; etc. When they got to the last child he got up and said that his father was unemployed; but he was here today with him and he was proud that he is with him. Standing up for our loved ones is a lifetime endeavor and gives meaning to our lives. All the jobs we do are only back story to the real story of being a father, mother, sister or brother. The priest was really talking about G~d; that G~d is with us no matter what; and that is how we should be with other people; there for them when they need us and to help each other along the way. I think we all let the back story become the center piece of our lives especially when we let it define who we are. So let’s take a tip from our real Father; and understand that being present and accounted for in the lives of the people we love is following His lead.



  2. True story….

    Two weeks ago I was talking to a loyal customer about a random topic. She is in the shop often, mostly to purchase dessert for her co-workers at the hospital. She happens to be an extremely educated individual. In addition to being a top Dr.in her field (mental health) she is a Mother, Our conversation shifted to her son and his choice of college. She asked me when I was going to consider having a child and I pretty much laughed in her face. She went on to say how she knew that I would be such a great parent (blah Blah Blah). I went on to give her the same look I give everyone else who mentions those words to me. The look of death..The mind yer own beezewax look. Talk about being straight forward??!!! I replied as candid as possible….I love kids, I love babies…what I dont love is a paranoid new parent who becomes a peer, pre-teens or teens going thru teen stuff. Kids going out, getting home late and college age kids going off and doing their own thing, leaving the parent (which would potentially be me) home to worry. She quickly raised her hand to her heart and said..”oh my.” I guess she was shocked That I was honest in my response. I realized I was talking about what my Mom went through raising me.

    She said I deny myself of the love for and from a child. And I said…(oh well) I know how the story goes. …we produce and direct our own lives/stores…I know the begining, the middle and the end…. My decisions are the result of the “end in mind….Lucky for me Im still young!!

    We create our own stories..they include happiness, misery and plenty in between….


  3. This stirs so many thoughts, but a few leap off the page at me. Focusing on the end of life and what will matter in the last days we have (if we get enough of a WARNORD that we can reflect) provides a great road map of what we should do every day, which is, of course, appreciate each other. The people we love, honor, and respect provide the tapestry for our lives, and it is often easy to think they “will just always be there”, because they are so woven into our existence. All of us can think of someone who was taken so quickly, we never got a chance to have that last lunch, or phone conversation, or e-mail. We can avoid regrets that never have to be if we stay in touch and treat each other with kindness. Too much time is lost over petty quarrels and inconsequential grudges. I love the Edgar Guest quote “There is enough good in the worst of us and enough bad in the best of us to keep all of us from talking about the rest of us.” When we appoint ourselves as the judge and jury of others, without taking into account our own faults, we insult all humanity, and God, as the Divine Creator, whom I believe is the only force in the Universe that truly practices completely unconditional love. Tomorrow is never promised, as Steven Covey found out. Although I wonder if he would add “Always wear your bicycle helmet properly” as one of the habits of highly effective people, if he had it to do over again. Sorry, was that too soon?



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