I’ll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it’s sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.
~ Kobe Bryant
Today one of my colleagues approached me: “Did you hear the news? I can’t stop thinking about it. What is the meaning of life? Nothing in life makes sense.”
I agree. It is a horrible death. It makes you stop and think for a moment. And you have to stop and think because one thing remains true — in the darkest day, there is the most to learn.
Many of us who didn’t know Kobe Bryant personally won’t be able to relate to the tragedy. I certainly can’t. But what I can do is to see this event as a lesson — a lesson to all of us who are still alive. The lesson is simple.
No matter how high you fly, your fall can be just around the corner.
For me, this is Kobe’s biggest legacy. I couldn’t care less about 10 people running around the court with a ball even when they do it spectacularly well. And no. I am not sorry and I don’t care about the hate of basketball fans. What matters for me is the food for thought. And the death of Kobe, little Gianna, and other people in that damn helicopter gave me plenty.
I ask myself the following questions, and I hope you will spend some time thinking about them too.
#1. Do you really love what you do?
And if the answer is ‘no’, there is a fundamental error in the direction you move. Because it really doesn’t make sense to spend your lifetime on anything else. Go out there and do what you love. Choose a line of work that matches your personality type. Serve people. Make a priority to deliver and maximize your value. It is never too late to start something new — something that would truly excite you and bring fulfillment into your life. Give yourself internal permission to walk your own path on Earth — the one that is unique, amusing, and good exclusively for you. Because that is the only path worth stepping on, that is the only path worth walking.
#2. Is the thing that you are chasing right now is worth chasing?
Everything is just a game. You are out there on the playground for big children carried away by the whirlwind of decorations, faces, and life situations, and you are so fascinated and mesmerized by the play that you completely forget that “mother can call you home” anytime.
So play the game. Perform. But don’t be IN the game.
Detach yourself from the results of your work. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is. The importance of what you worry about so much is built up solely in your head. It is the ego that creates the importance.
The real you always has the power to step back and observe. And when you observe, you start seeing. You see that nothing is important.
All this overachievement in life makes no sense when it is done for the purpose of satisfying the false ego.
You don’t need a million dollars to feel rich. You don’t need a million followers to feel loved. And you can be well damn sure you don’t need to be in a high-status position to know that you are living your life fulfilling your purpose.
As the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path says, you can have a good life by following the path of the right livelihood. And that path is simple — earn your bread by honest work, work hard, and serve your community. That’s it. Nothing complicated.
This material world is one big joke. And this joke is on us. The illusion of the material is so strong that it carries away all our senses that drag the mind like a tiny powerless puppy on a leash. We are so deep in the sleep, that even the slightest idea of what is it like to be awakened does not occur to us.
We chase not just the material things but the thoughts about them. Our mind loves to fantasize about a phantom — a hazy idea of an object that something that doesn’t exist. Obsession creates desire. Desire creates struggle. And in this struggle, we forget another fundamental truth — everything material that we have in our possession can all be taken away in a single breath.
#3. Are you doing your best in the present moment?
Give your best to whatever you do wherever you are. If you work, work. If you wash floors, wash floors. If you are listening to another person, listen like nothing else in this world but this person matters to you. Supercharge your senses by a conscious effort and channel all your attention to what lies in front of you.
And at the same time enjoy the moment. It is here and now, and you have it, and then it is gone. Forever. Never to be relived again.
This is the precious gift of life, this present moment. It’s all we have. It’s all we’ll ever have.
#4. What will be your legacy?
We are humans. We are egocentric beings. Only the best of us are disciplined enough to awaken from the illusion of false ego and stay awakened throughout life.
For the rest of us, we have to grow, and at some point, we have to make a decision. If we have matured enough to realize that we, People of Earth, came to this planet to learn, to love each other and to help each other to walk through life simultaneously returning this planet to it’s a beautiful and healthy state, then we must take responsibility for the choices we make. And the biggest responsibility there is is the responsibility for everything that happens in this world. We must serve others. And we must leave something that would outlive us.
Our legacy must help our children and then their children. The massif of work resulted from our dedication and our passion must continue to work for us and keep fulfilling our purpose long after our physical shell decomposes.
That’s the way great lived. That’s the way Kobe lived.
“I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan. I only want to be Kobe Bryant.”
He played ball for 20 years and that’s for people to judge what legacy Kobe has left behind. What I want for you is to take 10 minutes today and meditate on what will be yours.
Today I pray for the families of people who died in that helicopter. May God be with you.