Do The Thing: A Dance to the Grave

man with fireworks
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on

A man lay, with shallow breath and half-closed eyes on the hospital bed. His well-worn face marked with the lines of untold numbers of smiles and laughter. He was 93 years old and had been taken off any sort of assisted life support two days ago. He had asked the medical staff to do it. Said he would breathe just fine on his own. And he knew his grandson was coming today. He had been waiting for weeks to see him.
“Hi grandpa, how are you feeling?” the young man said quietly entering the room.
Opening his eyes slowly and turning his head to the sound the old man began to smile.
“I feel better than ever.” The old man said with a laugh waving his grandson over to have a seat next to him.
“I am glad you could make it down to see me. I will probably be gone after today.” The old man said grabbing his grandson’s hand.
“Grandpa, don’t talk like that. You are going to be fine.”
“I know I will be fine, it doesn’t change the fact that I am dying.”
“Aren’t you scared.” The grandson asked he was well groomed in his mid-thirties, wearing a long sleeve button up shirt and tie as if he had just left work.
“I am terrified.” The old man said with a laugh.
“Why are you laughing, Grandpa?”
“Because I have been terrified my whole life. Yet I have lived a wonderful life. I don’t think dying will have changed that.”
“Aren’t you afraid to not be around anymore?”
“Grandson, I want you to understand something, I learned a long time ago, not a single one of us are getting out of life alive,” he said laughing still.
“I don’t understand.”
“Listen carefully, what I am about to tell you changed my life. The richest place on earth is not the banks with gold or diamond minds. The richest place on earth is the graveyard. Because in the graveyard ideas and inventions, stories, books, and movies that were never made lay buried. Never to see the light of life. I have told all my stories, I have written all my books. I stood in front of giants and didn’t back down, I told the women I loved, I love her every day. I laughed and cried to the fullest of my capabilities. I did what I love even when I was exhausted and thought I couldn’t go on. I looked at the fear staring me in my face and ran through it. Because life will always be full of things we want to do, and fear will keep many from ever doing it. But all of the greatest victories and rewards in life lie on the other side of Fear. I am afraid of dying, but it is something I will go through the same way I did in life, dancing and laughing. Some people dance to the grave, while others are dragged kicking and screaming. Either way, it is where we are all headed. So, Grandson if you have not done the thing you want because of Fear. I implore you to move forward and do it anyway. Do not come to the grave, heavy with the burden of an unlived life. Come to it free and weightless, with the knowledge that there was not one more thing you could have done.

I am tired today, the sort of tired that comes along with doing something new and challenging in life. Like starting a new excercise program or building any new habit. There are going to be days like today where I just don’t feel like doing the thing. Even if it is the thing I most want to do. I realize this is a form of fear for me. I see my energy level and say, “I can’t produce anything of value when I am tired like I am now.” The fact is it is this fear that has caused me to quit things my entire life or to use substances to block out that tired feeling and make me believe I was super human. Well, I am proud to say I am far from Super Human. I am learning that Being Bold and doing what I want not only takes courage to walk through fear but it takes a certain amount of humility to remember that I am allowed to be weak and vulnerable. Everything I write and say will not be a master piece, to be held in the highest regards and to immortalize me as a great. The fact is I come to each day now with the realization that I am going to die, like it or not. And that realization allows me to do what I love even when I am tired and feel like I can’t go on. Because I just love doing this, I love to write even the most ridiculous of stories. Actually the more ridiculous the better. And I know that if I didn’t do what I loved today, because of fear that the product was not worthy of my greatness then I would regret not doin it.  I am done living a life of regret.

It is a choice that we make each morning to live or to die. To dance to the grave or be dragged to it. I will dance today, looking silly and tired but I will dance because I am headed there any way I might as well enjoy myself along the way.

I hope for anyone struggling to get moving today or to just get started on the thing that you have been terrified to start, that you just take a leap of faith and move one foot in the direction you want to go. What is the worst that could happen, you die? Oh, right we are all going to do that anyway. Good luck.

Sharing is caring.  If you enjoyed reading this, please feel free to share it with your friends.  We can’t keep what we have unless we give it away.  Have a great day.


Published by Matthew Whiteside

I am a writer, a storyteller, a yarn-spinning freakazoid. My life is full of two things today, lessons and blessings. I write fiction mostly but I also love to write about my life and the things I go through on a daily basis. Writing it out inspires and motivates me and that's why I do it. Plus if it does that for me maybe it will for someone else too.

3 thoughts on “Do The Thing: A Dance to the Grave

  1. You were destined to share your gifts to the world. We all are. Pushing through exhaustion and fear is very tough, but taking those gifts to the grave because we didn’t truly is a crime. Great reminder.


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