I’m outside at my woodpile today chopping wood, Sunday December 13, 2009. I have some thoughts to share about living on purpose, in relation to a young man who died in the Nanaimo community this week. Apparently he died of H1N1. I’ve heard they aren’t actually testing, they’re going by symptoms. It would be really helpful, for the sake of perspective, to share statistics on other causes of death, like traffic accidents, heart disease and obesity-related illness. Frank Plut could have died from a lot of other things. When someone who wasn’t responsible for his overall health and was obviously in one of the at-risk groups doesn’t get the vaccination ahead of showing symptoms, what is to be done? I think that’s a good question.
I met Frank a month before his death when two of his good friends brought him to a meeting to talk about ways that he could improve his health by losing some weight. It was the only time I actually met Frank; I talked with him on the phone shortly after that. He did impress me as being a very kind, fun-loving, adventurous man, who also took risks with his health. He had a very big heart, with a giving, thoughtful nature. He was a wizard at technology, could calm a room just by showing up and saying he could help, staying there until it was figured out. He made a big impression on many, which was obvious at his memorial. It was amazing to see so many men and women weeping as they shared their memories of Frank in between playing music that he loved. This is one of the best ways that we can celebrate and honour the life of one who has touched our lives.
The reality of living here on this planet is that it’s a time-limited offer: we’re all going to die. And some of us may die healthy! It’s not like we have to get something at the bottom of a cracker-jack box and say ‘I got this, what did you get?’ We’re going to die one way or another. To call someone irresponsible because they didn’t do something that they could or should have done is not an answer or a respect to someone’s legacy when they have completed their life. It’s not like someone could have given him a shot and he would have kept on living, he could have died from something else the next day. And to think that one vaccination is going to cure a lifetime of choices that didn’t serve a person’s health is just a big illusion. We make choices every day of our lives, and those choices either serve us or sabotage us: emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially.
What is the purpose for us being here? It could be that the only reason you came to live on this planet at this time is to make a contribution to one life: your own, your own soul’s evolution. And it’s a total bonus if you’re able to touch other people too, in a way that’s just perfect for their learning and their evolution. What is the purpose of us being here anyway? To learn, to grow, to understand, to deepen our compassion; to feel, experience and share love. There are so many ways that we can be of service, that we can find comfort, share comfort.
Frank Plut has left a big smile in the hearts of his friends and family, and he left when it was his time. How can anyone say it was an untimely death? How can anyone know that?
For me, I’m going to give it 100%. Rather than opt for a guinea pig vaccine, the tip I’m taking from the significance of Frank’s passing is to continue being completely responsible for my health on all levels, and to continue encouraging others to do the same. Living on purpose, to me, is being courageous enough to speak what’s on my mind. I’ve sat on the fence long enough, not wanting to offend anyone – and I still prefer to not offend anyone – but if I do, that is their choice. Frank Joseph Plut lived a full and complete life, and passed away the day before his 46th birthday. I’m grateful that I knew this gentle giant for a month before he died and to have learned more about him through the shared memories of his friends and family. Some of the most significant connections in our lives are very brief.
One of the touchstones of my radio show is asking people what living on purpose means to them. This is Frank’s worldly advice: “Be the best you can be. The measure of a man is by the integrity he has and the people who respect him. Set some goals for yourself and make the time to accomplish them.”
Lynn Thompson is the host and producer of ‘Living on Purpose’ which aired on CHLY radio in Nanaimo between 2004 – 2009. This article is an adapted transcription of the original monologue recorded while Lynn was chopping wood. For the 20 minute audio see Episode #166 on www.rabble.ca/rpn/lop