So much has happened in the world since the brutal killing by ISIS of American journalist, Steven Sotloff, almost eighteen months ago. I came across part of a letter that he wrote to his family before he was killed and it seems appropriate to share a blog post I wrote on September 15, 2014 about his death as a reminder to us all about how we live each day.
“Everyone has two lives. A second one begins when you realize you only have one…. Hug each other every day. Please know I am OK. Live your lives to the fullest and pray to be happy.”
My friend called me last week to discuss the brutal killing of journalist Steven Sotloff. She told me that the news of his killing, along with the murder of journalist James Foley, had her curled up into a ball in her closet sobbing at the violence of the world we live in. She felt that it was a terrible loss of two brave, good souls who were in the world to make it better.
As we both took a deep breath and long pause I read to her the above quotes from Steven Sotloff’s letters, which were secretly smuggled out of the prison camp where he was held. He left us all with a profound gift to reflect upon and possibly integrate into our lives and I wanted my friend to see that light within all of the darkness that she was feeling.
I think most of us know what Steven meant when he said, “Everyone has two lives. A second one begins when you realize you only have one.” How many times have we lost a friend or a loved one and committed ourselves to not wasting another minute and appreciating every day of our lives? Or were we sick and got better and said we will never take our lives for granted again? Maybe a terribly stressful situation worked out and we vowed to have more appreciation for what we have and not worry so much.
There are people in the world, like Steven and James, who face unimaginable situations that are truly horrific. But the problems most of us that are reading this post have are less so. For most of us who have a brush with stress, danger or death and vow to appreciate our second lives, as time goes by we often forget our commitment to the preciousness of each moment. The daily stresses of our lives consume our minds and we go on automatic instead of savoring that great cup of coffee, our walk with our child to an appointment or a quiet evening at home. We return to the first part of our lives where we think we can put off the joy and passion for another day in the future. We think if we just put our time in now, there will be time later to enjoy the best of life.
For Steven Sotloff, I suspect his acute awareness of how precious life can be was inescapable and it propelled him to let his family know that every day must be lived to the fullest. It seems he became very familiar with the knowledge that each day can be your last or it can change in a way that leaves you longing for the carefree days when you took it all for granted.