A life worth living

“Don’t worry about dying. Worry about living a life that doesn’t matter.”Sean Swarner

Last Friday, I had an opportunity to attend the annual Licking County Chamber of Commerce Groundhog Breakfast. This is one of the largest events in our local community and is always well attended by business and civic leaders of our community. You can see some photos from that day on the Chamber’s Facebook page.

The keynote speaker for the day was Sean Swarner. Within 5 minutes of Sean starting his presentation, I was hooked. So was everyone else in the room. Sean’s story starts off in Willard, OH, where he was always an athletic child. At age 13, he was diagnosed at with Hodgkin’s disease and given 3 months to live. He beat it. A few years later, he was diagnosed with an Askin’s tumor, another form of cancer and given 14 days to live. He beat it. He shared that the odds of being diagnosed with BOTH types of cancer and beating them both would be the same as wining the lottery 4 times in a row!

As Sean was pursuing graduate work, he did some researched and found out that no cancer survivor had ever climbed Mount Everest. Mount Everest’s summit is over 29,000 feet high. Sean pursued this goal and achieved it. Oh, and he did this with only one lung. The radiation from his cancer treatments years earlier had destroyed his other lung. Sean’s goal was twofold: 1) be the first cancer survivor to climb Mount Everest and 2) use Mount Everest as a 29,000 foot platform to scream hope to the world. He carried a flag with him in his jacket’s chest pocket (close to his heart) that had been signed by people whose lives had been affected by cancer in some way. He buried that flag beneath the snow and ice on top of Everest as a tribute to all of those that have been affected by cancer.

Since then, Sean has gone on to complete the Seven Summits. This challenge involves climbing to the highest points on each of the continents. The focus isn’t on him, but rather on providing hope. You can see some video footage of Sean telling his story below.

There were numerous takeaways that Sean shared during his presentation on Friday, but the one that stuck with me the most was the quote at the top of this post. Sean, at this point, was not worried about dying. His focus was, and is, on living a life that matters.

“The greatest use of a life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”–Anonymous

How do you make sure your living a life that matters? By reaching out to people, at whatever they’re at in life, and touching their life in a way that outlasts any tangible item. This can be done in different ways. Donating time to your favorite charities, spending quality time with your family, giving back to your community, making memories that will last, etc. There’s a million ways to do this. These are just a few.

And I want to make one additional point. Living a life that matters isn’t about your occupation or your title. At the end of the day, very few care about what you do to earn a living, but are more interested in how you’re living and touching others.

So here’s my Monday morning challenge to you: what are you doing? What are the things that you’re doing that allow you to live a life worth living? Who are you connecting with? Whose life are you touching? What favor or thing are you doing for someone else that they could never repay you for?

Make it a great Monday. Live a life that matters.


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