It’s the Width of Life That Matters, Not the Length

We all want to live a long life, but it is the width of life that really counts. What point is there in living to old age if you are unfulfilled.

We all want to live a long life. Perhaps you want to live long enough to help raise grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren. Maybe you want to witness humans landing on Mars. Or maybe, you are just afraid to die. Whatever the reason, we want to live long and healthy lives. Longevity is the ultimate trophy for a life well-lived. While the length of our life is ideal, what about the width?

What many of us do not realize is that we all harness unbelievable capacity to lead lives with lasting impact. It doesn’t matter what resources you have, your age, your abilities or your health. When we discover and serve the world with our purpose, nothing can stand in our way. All we have to do is live our relatively short life with unbelievable width.

Lives sadly cut short but lived brilliantly wide

Rebecca Schofield lived a broad width of life in her short life.
Rebecca Schofield

I’m reminded of a young lady by the name of Rebecca Schofield. Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at the age of 17, she invested every last drop of life into kindness. As a lasting legacy, Becca started a global movement of kindness called #BeccaToldMeTo. She died at the young age of 19. While not gifted with a long life, she definitely lived her full width.

Terry Fox
Terry Fox running beside police car.

Terry Fox. Another life cut short because of cancer. He exposed the disease to mainstream media to raise millions of dollars for cancer research. He was 22 years old when he died in 1981. But in the last 143 days of his life, he ran 5,373 kilometres, trying to run across Canada. Every year since his death, an annual run in his name is held in Canada to raise money for cancer research. Since it’s inception, the Terry Fox Run has raised over $750 million. While he never completed his goal, he achieved his purpose. In doing so, he lived the full width of his short life.

Anne Frank writes
Anne Frank

Anne Frank died of disease in a German concentration camp during World War II at the age of 15. For two years prior, she and her family hid from police while they lived in German-occupied Amsterdam. During this time, Anne, an aspiring journalist, wrote a diary of her time in hiding. She was determined to write, not to share with the world, but to develop her talent. While she never intended for her journal to become public, “The Diary of a Young Girl” became a world-renowned book after her death. Anne became one of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

The width of life provides quality over quantity

Each of these remarkable young people lived their short lives with endless width. They took their short-term, yet terminal struggle and turned it into lasting change that continues to build a growing legacy long after their death. However, those of us left living lives much longer than theirs are determined to go about each day withholding our search for purpose.

Even though we know we have an expiration date, we never live up our “best before” date: now.

As humans, we are the only species on the planet that knows it will eventually die. However, we live out our lives never filling out our width and instead, spread ourselves desperately thin. Its almost like we’re trying to live as aerodynamic as possible, racing towards a better tomorrow. Little do we know, when we live out our width, life slows down a little, at least enough for us to see the race.

None of us share the same purpose in life. But it is your duty as a human to spend every day to find it. When you become relentless in finding your purpose, you will find it. Once you see it, you can execute it. When you execute it, you live your full width. When you are living your full width the key to a fulfilling life -no matter the length. However long that is, it will be enough.

You must use every inch your life’s width to make every inch of your life’s length lastingly meaningful.

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