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The First Rule of Life – a story about death

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This will probably turn a little philosophical however I just lost a close relative, and you probably agree that events like this have their way of putting things into perspective.

But before it gets all gloomy, let me start you off with a story about a man I met today. A man who helped me see life more clearly and I hope that he will help you too.

Today I met a man who reminded me of the first rule of life

If you’re a regular reader you might know that run three times a week. A couple of times during the week I run about 5.5km (that’s approximately 3.4 miles for you people don’t quite get the metric system 😉 ) and on Sundays approximately 13.5km (8.4 miles).

On Sundays I go for a run in something called Dyrehaven a forest park just north of Copenhagen. The direct translation would be “Animal Garden” but I believe that the English name is “The Deer Park” because wild deer roam around freely in there.

It’s a wonderful place that’s even more beautiful here in the spring.

And this is also why I was a bit surprised to find a man sitting literally 10 meters from Dyrehaven next to a busy road painting.

Now I’m aesthetically challenged but if I were a painter and wanted to find a beautiful motive for my next painting, I would probably have moved the 10 meters and I would have had no shortage of fantastic motives.

It kind of threw me off a bit, so I decided that if the man would still be there painting when I was running back, I would stop and have a chat.

Of course he was still there painting when I got back, so I stopped for a minute to talk with him. Heck I even got a picture where you can see the road behind him.


The death of a close relative

I didn’t just want pull paparazzi on him and just stop and take photos, so I asked him if I could take a minute of his time.

Maybe it was a bit much to lay on this poor guy on this beautiful spring morning, however I let him know that my grandmother (on my mother’s side) had just passed away the day before, and him painting by the side of the road had reminded me of a simple yet powerful thing.

He reminded me that a beautiful motive can exist just opposite from a busy road, and it is only the ways we choose to look that determine what we see.

For someone who has just loved a dear family member, I could choose to focus on all the sorrow and all the regrets, or I could remember all the good times I’ve had with my grandmother and the entire thing she’s done and experienced through a lifetime.

Now I don’t want to sound cold, I would have wished that I’d gotten more time with her, however it’s easy to get bogged down with all the negative things when we experience death.

So that leads me to what I believe is the first rule of life!

Yeah – big words I know. But this rule can pretty much decide how you approach life and how life will treat you.

The First Rule of Life

So let me start out by telling you the rule:

In life there will be good times and bad times, wonderful moments and awful moments. But you alone decide what to focus on.

Events occur, but it’s your perception that determines what it means to you.

That doesn’t mean that you need to go around with a big grin on your face like you were the Joker from Batman, but it does tell you that if you assign a negative meaning to a given event like a death, it will have a negative impact on your life.

Perception is everything!

So if (dare I say when?!) you lose someone close to you, remind yourself of the man who found his beautiful motive, not among deer’s and old trees, but by the side of a busy road.

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8 Responses to The First Rule of Life – a story about death

  1. Khai says:

    I’m sorry for your loss;
    but thank you for the reminder that where we choose to focus is what determines our perception of our circumstances. Facing some pretty big challenges right now, I needed that reminder to look at the beauty instead of the busy road.

    • Rasmus says:

      Thanks Khai.
      We have powerful minds and we focus on, we will often get more of (without sounding too much like “The Secret” ;))


  2. Hi Rasmus,

    Sorry for your loss. Death is so difficult because it is so final.

    We can’t help but be sad and sadness bring on negative emotions.

    I’m a believer of ‘things happening for a reason’. You run often in the same place, but have never seen this man before? Except when you needed to hear his wise words? coincidence?

    I would love to know if you’ve thought about that?

    And just being curious… was he a good painter?

    Great story and I respect you talking openly about your loss.


    • Rasmus says:

      Thank you Naomi – and thank you for taking the time to comment.

      I’m not too much a believer in “things happening for a reason”, that would mean that someone else other than me was in control of my life :). But when that is said I would probably not have thought much of a guy sitting and painting by the roadside if I had not just lost someone, and that fact made me think of the morale of my little story.

      Regarding his work, let me be honest here, I didn’t look too much as his painting, as I was sweating and smelling like a dog He had this tranquil moment that I didn’t want to disturb too much.


  3. George says:

    Sorry about your loss, Rasmus. I agree that focus is key.

    • Rasmus says:

      Thanks George. It’s your mind that interprets the events happening in your life. So you choose if you want a negative interpreter or a positive interpreter.


  4. Simo Taqi says:

    I’m sorry for your loss my dear, may She Rest in Peace. Sorry for losing such a Great person.

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