I was recently on a plane. This isn’t unusual for me as I’m on a plane a few times a week. I proudly use “Road Warrior” as a description of myself because I’m in travel, so you can say I practice my trade all the time.
Like most road warriors, I’m always surrounded by people, though amazingly, it’s still very easy to be lonely while traveling. Days, weeks and months pass (airline miles and hotel points rack up) and time seems to disappear before your eyes. While I consider myself pretty good about keeping in touch with people (via phone, social media, etc.) I started to think about all the things I’d want people to know in the event, well, that I wasn’t around anymore. I know, it’s a bit morbid so hear me out. In the event you weren’t here on this earth tomorrow, what would you want the important people in your life to know?
So, I started to type an email. I imagined not being able to ever speak to anyone ever again. I typed and poured my heart out and I kept typing. I’m not going to give you all the details, but the evolution of the email was pretty amazing and what I’m going to do with the email might interest you.
I started with my wife. I reminded her about all the things I love and admire about her. I reminisced about when we met, how I felt, etc. Mostly, I thanked her and told her how much I appreciated her, because I don’t do that enough. I imagined we were having the last conversation we’d ever have, and these were my notes. I also reminded her of my washboard abs and long flowing hair, not because I actually have those, but I wanted to be sure she’d smile. You can imagine, the words kept flowing from my brain onto the screen.
Then I wrote to my children. Both under ten years of age, I needed to keep it relevant to their lives now. I wrote about how much I love them and how proud I am of them, especially how kind they are. Then I thought I should write things that would be pertinent to them as they grew up. Again, I told them how much I loved them, but now I added things like how they needed to cherish one another and yes, take care of Mommy. As I kept writing, I had to change my tone, giving advice for the things I know were likely to happen as they grew up; love, heartbreak, picking the right friends, the right job and making all sorts of decisions.
Then I wrote to my parents. I told them about how much I loved them and I thanked them for everything they’ve ever done for me. I also apologized for nearly burning down the house when I was a kid, but that’s another post.
Then I wrote to my sister and then to my extended family and then to my best friends. Then, I even wrote my last social media post entitled “If you’re reading this, it was nice knowing you.”
When I thought I was done with the email, I re-read it and made changes. Turns out, this continued for many flights. Honestly, I’m still not done, but I have to say, writing this email has been an amazing experience. I have since taken the time to call people just to tell them I love them, to thank them and basically tell them everything I wrote, using it as a script.
So what am I going to do with this email (after a few more additions)? I’m going to send it to the people I love. Why wait? What is worth saying, is worth saying now.
Breathe. Think. Type. You’ll enjoy this as will the people you love.
Thanks for sharing. It made me wonder what was most important in your life and whether making some changes so you got to spend more time with the people you were writing to might mean more to them than the email. Parents pass, children grow up and leave home. It reminded me of this http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying
Thanks for sharing. It reminds me of the book ‘365 Thank Yous’ by John Kralik. Also an eyeopener.
What a lovely article! One day, you’ll be very pleased you sent those emails. I taught a business group on Corporate Writing a few days ago and one of the topics was on writing emails. I wish I had your article to show them how a email can contain compassion and ;human-ness’ (new word).
thanks for sharing and good luck with your travel career.
Good Advice…. Thanks….