As he stared at the end of his life when diagnosed with cancer, Jonathan was hit with the fact he was not the man he thought he was... He had become the kind of man he would not want to be near. Two remarkable people appeared and taught him life's greatest lessons, and in that started him on the road to redemption that saved his soul and saved and his life. He started on the road to redemption that saved his soul and saved and his life. He published his first book in 2017 – The Other Side of Ego and a TEDx Talk followed.
By Jonathan Gravenor
Earlier this month just before my birthday, I was asked by a friend what would I say to a younger version me if I had the chance.
The request was made to a few of us on social media, a few of his older friends (that I assume he considered to be wise). They talked about compound interest, wise investment tactics, how to win friends and create leverage to guarantee financial success. They added it is never to late too go back to school and learn new skills that help you earn more money.
Perhaps my avoided date with a premature death has changed me, but I did not think of those things.
I realized I would show a younger me pictures of myself in hospital—tubes draining puss from open wounds created by cutting cancer from me—and that as I lay looking back and forth at my life—I could not see how money or more knowledge than the next person had ever helped me become richer or smarter.
As I lay in Chemo Therapy being drip fed a vile toxin that was bringing me to edge of death, I saw it was not the money I had made that enriched me or would save me now. Nor would it be the new Mercedes I’d bought two months earlier, or the houses, clothes or any other material items that would give me a few more years, or even more so give my life meaning.
After I survived surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, I found that the most valuable commodity I could get came in the eyes of the people I loved and the memories of the places I experienced.
Like the time I floated on the Ganges river in India, watching the timeless tradition of life and death as families came to cremate loved ones, not in a sombre act, but rejoicing in their belief that death is not the final moment. It is the path to our next destination.
Or as I walked the cobblestone streets of Paris contemplating the words of the famed philosopher Rene Descartes and trying to understand his famous quote “I think; therefore I am.” And finally realizing that “I AM” more than just flesh and bones. A spirit does reside inside of this body that can never ever be extinguished.
I would tell my younger self to cherish the moments, like when I held my newborn daughter and felt the enormity of responsibility for the first time, and while fear gripped me love won the day. I would say collect all those times that mean so much and feast off them—like when you kiss the woman you truly love, or when you hold the hand of a dying friend or hug a new one.
I would say that the absolute truth is that not one bit of happiness that rocked me to the core ever came from something I bought.
To my young self the best advice? Never ever chase money or make money the most important goal of your life. Chase passion and run with inspiration to make the world a better place. Love, so deep it feels like it hurts when actually all it is doing is stretching you…to allow you to take more love in.
I would say never ever hold back a tear. Cry rivers and wash away the sins of indifference and hatred.
I would say that there are only two truths that face you right now - every man will die, and - only a few will really live.
From War Zones to Olympic Games, from Red Carpets to National Elections, if it was a big story, Jonathan Gravenor was there. For over two decades he was a Foreign Correspondent, a Broadcast Journalist, and Presenter delivering the news to millions of people. In the word of Journalism, he had it all, that is until that all included cancer. Suddenly faced with the possibility of impending death he was forced to look at who he was and what his legacy would be. Read more.
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