Walter Bettiger, age 44, is afraid of death, dying, disease, germs, and basically everything. All Walter cares about is himself and how he will survive. Continuously scared that he is dying, his family doctor has become a common fixture in his home. Visit after visit, Walter’s doctor assures Walter he is healthy and that his aches, pains, and perceived illness are all illusions of his mind. Walter, not seeing anything outside his own existence, refuses to believe that he is not dying, and continues to wallow in the world of self pity and victimhood.
In a conversation with himself asking why man only lives for a handful of years while the world continues to move forward, Walter is visited by the devil. As I am sure you can see where this is going, Walter makes a deal with the devil, eternal life in exchange for Walter’s soul. Walter happily signs on the dotted line and for the first time, begins “living” life, or at least the way Walter believes life should be lived. Walter begins “living” by resting his hands on a hot radiator with no burns, jumping in front of a train with no injury, getting hit by a bus with no pain, and so on. Walter admits to having 14 accidents and the only thing he has to claim for this new life are insurance checks.
Walter is bored and continues to find ways to feel excitement by drinking poison and attempting to jump off a roof. Walter never makes the leap off the roof due to his wife falling off the roof instead in an attempt to stop him. Walter believes the real thrill of his new life will come when he calls the police, admits to killing his wife, and hopes the final outcome for such a crime will be the electric chair. Unfortunately, the judge and jury had something else in mind for Walter as they sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It is at this point Walter cashes in his escape clause welcoming the devil to take his soul for the ability to die.
Walter wasn’t living before or after his deal with the devil. Walter was a man who wanted to be entertained by others and blamed others for his unhappiness. Life was happening to Walter, he was not an active participant. Walter did not see the beauty in the every day, he only saw each day lived as one day closer to dying. Walter thought with the extension of his life, he would be able to accomplish so much more but Walter didn’t take into account who he was. Walter lacked self awareness. He believed that greatness would come to him with no effort. He believed he deserved more because he demanded it. He believed that death was the only thing stopping him from being great. What Walter failed to see is death makes life worth living. The fact we get a finite amount of time on this earth is what makes everything so precious and worth experiencing. It is how we decide to use those handful of years we are granted that determine our happiness, define our lives and its meaning, and paints our legacy. Life is not about the years lived but what is done with the years given.
I have heard many people say I’m not living the life I thought I would be living, I’m not where I thought I would be, I am too old to change careers, I am not brave enough to try something new, etc. and my only thought is “If not now, when?” We cannot go back in time, we cannot relive the past with the hopes of a different outcome, and we will not be given more time. We have to make the most of what we have now. Everyone is given the same amount of time in a day, how will you use your time to create a life that you are proud to call your own? How can you prioritize your life so that you focus on what is important and not on just getting by. If family is what is most important, how can you focus your time and energy on your family? If building a career is your passion, how can you focus your time and energy on that? What if both are important and you feel one has to suffer in order for the other to succeed? It is about balance. It’s about creating a life, both personal and professional that support each other and not pull from each other. It is about making choices, and sometimes hard choices on where you will spend your time and energy. You don’t have to sacrifice to have it all, you have to make choices that support the very person you are, the person you want to become, and the life you want to have. Your choices will let you know what you value and what you find a priority. What choices can you make to have an exciting life, a life worth living, and one that, when the time comes, you are proud to leave as your legacy.