The other day I was pouring over my Facebook news feed riddled with health articles like “How to lengthen your life” or news stories sprinkled with the latest on chia seeds, goji berries, chlorella, cacoa nibs - “the new super foods that will help you live longer!”
That's all great, and I am all FOR living our "best" life, but something else struck a chord with me.
“Who” told us that if we live the longest life that we will have the best life? The question I ask myself is, What if a 90 year old man just muddled through life with little purpose, little gratitude for this life? Maybe he lived a life of aches and pains, never really with vibrant health, or passionate about serving others. No deep and meaningful relationships in his life. Complained a lot and existed to exist. Does that mean he lived a “great” life because we as a society believe that since he lived to a “Life expectancy” age deemed by the medical world, that his life was rich and whole. Isn’t a day filled with health, love, gratitude and service a day well spent or is it a day complaining and stomping our feet at the unfairness of life?
"You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when. But you can decide how you’re going to live now." -Joan Baez
Enter Mattie Stepanek.
Matty Stepanek was a poet, best-selling author, peacemaker, and motivational speaker who suffered from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, He died a month before his 14th birthday. His sister and two brothers also died from the disease during early childhood. He appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show numerous times, leaving our hearts full with his nuggets of wisdom and in awe of his sweet sincerity. He was a big, BIG soul living in a small child’s body.
He popped into my mind because I thought, well, didn’t he live a full life? Didn’t he serve his purpose to inspire the world to do better, be better, and live with passion? Who says that because he didn’t have children or his mom didn’t get him for a while longer that we should mourn his death and not celebrate his life? Of course, we mourn, and we cry and we get sad when a person leaves this Earth. We must feel that loss because its BIG. The world misses him but I know he has planted little seeds all around the WORLD, just take a look at his website! He has inspired so many to spread peace, love and kindness. What a grand legacy!
I think the former president, Jimmy Carter said it best in his eulogy to Mattie.
“He was concerned about his legacy, wanting to have seven children and talking about his grandchildren, but Mattie's legacy is forever because his Heartsongs will resonate in the hearts of people forever. I thank God that he is no longer suffering and that he's with the Prince of Peace, getting big hugs in Heaven and maybe wearing a tuxedo.” Pres. Jimmy Carter (June 28, 2004)
Whenever I watch an old clip of him, my heart bursts wide open and inspires me to be a better person. Always. I love his cheerful little smile and his GIANT Spirit.
He said, “Our Heartsong is our reason for being. If you want to understand what a Heartsong is, think about what matters most to you. What do you want? What do you need? Not a toy, not a thing, but what do you, as a human being need? You understand why that matters? That’s what you are called to offer other people. That is your Heartsong. You should share that through something you enjoy, something that you are good at.” - Mattie Stepanek
Yes, he said that. And wrote SEVEN best selling books filled with this kind of wisdom!
"I really think I am here for a purpose. In my life, I have had so many times that I came close to dying. Even if it takes 100 or 1,000 years, I have to do what I was meant to do." - Mattie Stepanek
My faith may differ from the norm. And maybe its the optimist part of me. To me and like Mattie, God, puts each and everyone of us on the planet for a specific purpose. It may be for a moment, a season, or a “lifetime” that we spend on this Earth. I believe God uses us to grow and learn from one another by allowing us to use our special, unique GIVEN AT BIRTH talents and gifts to make the world better, brighter, sillier, and a more enjoyable place.
To Mattie, he was grateful for each day he had here. He spent his days inspiring others with his poetry, spreading his peace message, and instilling hope to those who need may need it.
He never said, “why me?” he said “why not me?” He was so focused on living his “Heartsong” everyday that he didn’t have much time to complain. He did mention that he was human and of course he got mad, sad, and angry. He had lost all three of his siblings in his short life! He was a “spiritual being living a human experience” as the great Dr. Wayne Dyer says. He got that. All before the AGE OF FOURTEEN!
Here is one of my favorite poems of his...
BY MATTIE STEPANEK
I have a song, deep in my heart,
And only I can hear it
If I close my eyes and sit very still
Even when the going gets rough.
It is so easy to listen to my song.
When my eyes are open and
I am so busy and moving and busy,
If I take time and listen very hard,
I can still hear my Heartsong.
It makes me feel happy.
Happier than ever.
Happier then everywhere
And everything and everyone
In the whole wide world.
Happy like thinking about
Going to Heaven when I die.
My Heartsong sounds like this-
I love you! I love you!
How happy you can be!
How happy you can make
This world be!
And sometimes it's other
Tunes and words, too.
But it always sings the
Same special feeling to me.
It makes me think of
Jamie, and Katie, and Stevie,
And other wonderful things.
This is my special song.
But do you know what?
All people have a special song
Inside their hearts!
Everyone in the whole wide world
Has a special Heartsong.
If you believe in magical, musical hearts,
And if you believe you can be happy,
Then you, too, will hear you song.
Fold that up, bottle it, file it away in your heart. Its a keeper. Rest in Peace, little guy.
So which is it, is it the years in your life that count or is it the life in your years??? Quality vs. Quantity?
And always remember this:
"You were born to greatness. Having a life mission implies that that world has need of you. In fact, the world has been preparing you to fill this need with one incredible life experience after another. Finding and fulfilling your potential will lead you to your highest experience in this life. Believe it, you have a mission. It is the gateway to your personal greatness."
Love & Light,