Leo Tolstoy wrote many powerful words, but perhaps none so hauntingly compelling as those in The Death of Ivan Ilyich.
In the novella, we meet Ivan as he is lying on his deathbed. He is filled with anger, frustration, and disappointment – mostly because he felt his wife pressured him to serve as a Moscow judge purely for the prestige and entitlement.
But right before his death – in a moment of clarity – Ivan realizes that he has lived his life solely for his own selfish purposes. Gripping his wife’s hand, his last words are “What if my whole life has been wrong?”
I recall Wayne Dyer sharing the story of when he first read The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Wayne had just enlisted in the Navy and was on a ship to be stationed overseas. After reading Ivan’s fateful words, Wayne penned a brief letter to himself which read, “Dear Wayne, don’t die with your music still in you.”
We all have that “music” within us. An inner blue flame that aligns our passion and belief.
Unfortunately, life has a way of seemingly dousing that fire and muffling the music.
The pressures come from all around us. There is unfinished work to be done. Impact to make. Money to be earned. Expectations to be met. Goals nowhere close to being achieved.
And if the pressures from others and society aren’t stressful enough, we place plenty on ourselves. I’m not [blank] enough. Fill in the blank with all our meaningful adjectives: smart, rich, talented, healthy, young, old, pretty, clever, and on and on.
It’s no wonder we don’t hear the music. If anything, it’s a mournful dirge.
But what if your life has been all wrong?
If all those pressures and all the expectations were instantly removed, what would be left?
An incredibly glorious symphony! The most melodious music you can imagine.
That’s what plays within every one of us.
When we shift our attention away from what the world, others, and our ego selves expect from ourselves, then we align with that inner blue flame. Our lives become “on purpose” and we enter into a blissful state of flow.
The music flows through us, enveloping everyone we interact with.
We can all borrow the potent words of Wayne Dyer and remind ourselves, “Dear Me, don’t die with my music still within!”
Then step away from the ego state of expectation and enter into the symphotic passion of life.