Ok so I’m a few weeks behind on the Prince tributes but the line, from 1999 is one that’s always stuck in my head. It struck me all those years ago when the idea of the 21st century seemed like it was way in the future. That was the early 1980s when the song was first released, Prince was younger than I am now and I was still in primary school! But this blog post isn’t really about Prince. It’s actually about a walk in my local cemetery. The week before Prince died and the very morning before I heard the sad news of Victoria Woods death (I was SO sad about that) I was walking through Nunhead Cemetery and happened to notice this gravestone. It belongs to a woman who, like me, was called Mary Ann. My namesake died in 1896 at the age of just 34. The headstone also commemorates the death of her daughter 6 years later in 1902 aged just 16. Something about their ages when they died and the fact that I share a first name with this woman’s name got me thinking.
Though I’ve walked past this gravestone many times before it really struck me that morning. I’ve already lived for more years than Mary Ann. I have already had more time than she had in this lifetime. Reflecting on that as I walked around the cemetery what began to dawn on me was a very clear sense that, given that we never know how many we will have, I don’t want to waste the moments.
Whilst life doesn’t always feel like a party, it definitely isn’t meant to last, at least not in the way that we know it. However even though our mortality is an inescapable fact, it is so remarkably easy to forget this sometimes as we get lost in the hustle and bustle of our day to day existence.
What came in focus during my morning walk that day is that when something causes me to really think about my own mortality as this gravestone did, I have a much clearer sense that I don’t want to waste anymore time not quite getting around to the things I keep meaning to do! It’s not that I want to be busy for nothing. I want to leave plenty of time for rest and fun and friends and family. But I do want to create things that matter not just to me but to other people as well. Being a writer and story teller with a tendency towards mild disorganisation, I have a lots of little notes and pieces of paper with ideas and thoughts on them about things I want to write. I don’t want to die before I’ve worked on and shared more of them! I have more ideas for blog posts and books and talks I want to give and I’d like to make at least some of them real in the time I have left. I suppose what I am talking about really is legacy, I want to have an impact, make my mark and perhaps the biological urge is actually to make sure there is something of me left when I’m gone!
But it is also important to me to inspire that commitment in others. In fact supporting people who want to make a difference and leave a legacy is really what I am about. I want to help other people to do what really matters to them. That’s one of the reasons I am so LOVING the Birthing Circle work I am doing this summer where I am helping a small group of women to birth the projects they care most about and it’s also why I am sharing my StoryPower course again this May. StoryPower is about sharing your story to make a difference to others. We can take our stories to the grave with us if we choose but I really think that we do a greater service to humanity if we choose to share them with all the bravery that that entails. StoryPower is for people who want to do that but could use a little help and support along the way. I’m so looking forward to starting it with a new group on May 9th and there is still space there for you to if you would like to join us, so do have a look at the StoryPower page now and <get in touch with me soon if you want more information.