I was watching the movie Central Intelligence the other day, mostly because I’m a huge fan of the Rock. There is a great scene in the film that illustrates the power of death to put a spotlight on our core desires and passions.
Here is what happened: The Rock and Kevin Hart are flying a small plane, when they run out of gas. The plane goes into a nosedive, and both the Rock and Kevin Hart begin to freak out. In the midst of their airplane debacle, The Rock asks Kevin Hart what his biggest regret is. Faced with his own death, what is the one thing he wished he would have done differently?
Death has a funny way of bringing our lives into focus. When we are faced with the reality of our own mortality, little things that we thought were important fade into the background. Unimportant stressors disappear, like chaff that is burned away. What remains is the core of what is important to us.
The “problem” is that we don’t often face our own death, so we don’t experience its powerful effect. I can think a bit about the fact that I will die someday, but the reality is that I expect to live another 40 or 50 years. So I think I still have time to worry and fret about petty things in my day-to-day life. As unpleasant as it would be, I could probably use a wake-up call like Kevin Hart experienced in the movie.
As it turned out, The Rock was just joking with Kevin. The plane wasn’t really crashing; the Rock was just using the power of death to get Kevin to tap into the things that mattered most to him. Kevin realized he really wanted to have a child with his wife, but he was resisting it because of his fears.
What about you? If you were to die today, what would you regret the most? What is the one thing you wished you would have done differently in your life? The good news is that you probably won’t die today. If you woke up this morning, you still have more time. It might be a good day to make a course correction toward the life you really want.