“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?”
Stephen Levine is a poet and teacher of guided meditation and healing techniques. He and his wife Ondrea, have counselled people who are dying and their loved ones for more than 30 years. Stephen Levine’s bestselling books Healing into Life and Death; A Gradual Awakening; and A Year to Live are considered classics in the field of conscious living and dying.
As a counsellor for the terminally ill, Levine has spent a lot of time understanding the psychology and process of death and dying. His quote stems from knowing how we tend to get so wound up in our routines that we forget the most basic of needs – that of loving and being loved. This is evident in this beautiful quote above, where he is urging us to think about what really matters to us. Levine knows that expressing love is the most beautiful and most fulfilling of human experiences. Yet, most of us tend to withhold this lovely experience because of any number of reasons. May be it is a cultural thing, or ego, or even lack of time – the outcome is the same. We do not express love to our loved ones.
In the above quote, Levine makes a strong case for expressing love. The beauty of the quote is in its sense of urgency. Levine urges us to express our love right now, without wasting a moment. Through his tongue-in-cheek question, “And why are you waiting?” Levine is telling us that we don’t need to wait for our deathbed to express love, appreciation and all that is good. We must do it now.
We can judge the potency of Levine’s citation by what was observed during the 9/11 terror strikes. In the post-strikes coverage, one thing that touched us all was how everyone on board the four ill-fated aircraft, as well as those trapped in the two World Trade Centre towers, knew they were about to die… and how most of them were “dying” to reach out to their loved ones. Some of them even managed to speak to their spouses, children, parents. All of them said almost the same thing, “I think I am going to die and I just wanted to let you know that I love you”.
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