My eulogy at 40
John Alie McConnell: July 9, 1976 — March 9, 2017
We gather today to celebrate a life well lived. The life of John Alie McConnell. A father who took great care to try to teach his children all the things they would otherwise not learn in school. He taught patience and caring and how to love yourself first above all others so that you can provide more love overall. He was a kind man with a huge heart, despite dealing with anger and self-worth issues for half of his life. He was known to stop in the middle of what he was doing to help someone out, no matter the smallness of scale.
He once picked up a homeless man in Atlanta and over the course of many hours and miles was able to help this man reconnect with a lost sum of money floating in the nether. He took this man in for a meal and a long conversation at Subway despite the sneering looks from other customers. He brought him to Walmart so that this man could purchase the bare necessities of life. Even though John had his doubts about the man from time to time he would be constantly surprised that this man purchased only the most important things a man who didn’t know where he would sleep next would need. He watched intently as this man ran through the aisles grabbing mostly travel sized shampoos and soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and headphones; all items in pink if possible. Upon seeing mostly pink items he asked the man why pink and the response was purely genius: “people don’t steal your stuff if it is pink, they just leave it alone”. The travels across many miles, ultimately ending in Nashville, taught both of them lifelong lessons. To John, that’s what life was all about, learning lifelong lessons and sharing that knowledge with someone who might need it.
John brought a sense of happiness into this world through his thoughtful attention where it mattered most. He listened. He listened to everyone around him. He took in all the inputs and eventually, after long pauses of silence, compiled a very insightful response which would spark further insightful questioning. He was, in the latter half of his life, an avid reader of all sorts of books. One thing he did with his children was to constantly ask what they were reading and how they were impacting the world around them daily. Despite a turbulent marriage he never really gave up on his former wife Vanessa. He never really spoke down about her as some divorcees would do. He still tried to support and inspire her even when it was unwanted. He tried to be the best person he could be in the short amount of time on this planet he had. He used to read a lot of Stoic phylosophy among other things. The likes of Seneca and Marcus Aurelius come to mind. He was always trying to connect the dots of phillosophy, chemistry, biology, math, psychology, philanthropy, business, and happiness in order to figure out the magical answers to the question many of us ponder from time to time: what is the meaning of it all? He strived to inspire those around him even if he himself was not consistently living up to the same standards.
John had a couple mantras he tried so hard to live by. The most prevalent were:
“I love myself” something he would say to himself at various points in the day. Something he learned from Kamal Ravikant after a short interaction between them on twitter.
“Life is long, if you know how to use it” from Seneca “On the Shortness of Life”. A book he stumbled across while expanding his horizons and learning from Tai Lopez.
“Look for the magic in everyone and everything around you. If you don’t see the magic, be the magic (the second part interpreted by John)” Gleaned from Adam Robinson, whom he later became lifelong friends with after discovering him through a Tim Ferris podcast.
“The Serenity Prayer” or a variation of which he adopted into his daily prayer before meals. John was not a religious man but he was very spiritual. He used this prayer, made famous through any 12 step program for healing, as his anchor in life, giving thanks for all he had in life and all he lost as well. The good times and the bad. Here is his prayer in his own words:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Take care of my people all over the world and make sure they are good. Give me strength, humbleness, and humility and forgive me for my sins. Thank you for the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the ins and outs, the peaks and valleys, the plateaus and the pinnacles. Thank you for the people you bring into my life and the ones you take out of my life. The opportunities you bless me with every day to improve my life and the lives of those around me.”
And of course the tattoo he got of the Japanese Kanji symbol for the color white with the words “Momento Mori”. The white being the absence of or the void. The space in between where important things linger. The words “Momento Mori” he said to a lot of people to remind them that no matter what we do in this life, we all will die eventually. He loved this ancient latin quote because it reminded him that the choices he made everyday were his to make. The impact of those choices decided whether they were good or bad choices. The impact of those choices were lasting beyond mortal life.
One thing he used to love as a question and answer, “what would your future self want to tell your current self?”. This question summing up what you probably ought to be doing or at least how to evaluate your life choices currently and to understand the gravity and importance of those choices, or the lack thereof.
He was a good man with a huge heart. May his soul rest in peace, and his loved ones rest assured that he lived a full life.
What does your eulogy look like?
Does your life resemble something to this affect? Are you living the life you want to be remembered by or are you simply filling in the time with “stuff” so that you don’t really have to think about this? Are you striving to be the CEO of your company, and if so “why?”, what are your overarching reasons for wanting such success? What impact do you want to have on the world? What are you doing right now to influence that impact? This is my eulogy as it stands right now. If I were to die today, I would hope this is similar to what would be said about me, so I know people had a true understanding of who I tried to be.
Leave your impact on the world in the best way you can. Love yourself more than anyone else does. Pass on your legacy in whatever fashion you feel is necessary.
Understand that your resume and your net worth are not what will be highlighted upon your death. Your contributions to the world will be.