Farewell Letter, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (revised)

[Correction: The letter that is referenced at the bottom of this blog was attributed to Marquez, but not actually written by him. It is still a nice reminder of what to value in life though so we are keeping it up!]

I received this today from a dear friend who often helps to “keep me in check” and I wanted to share it with you.  There are portions that I think many of us need to be careful of–“I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.”  Marquez may be speaking to something deeper than I am understanding here, but it seems that in our fast paced world where there is often more to do that can be done, we need to sleep.  I do not necessarily refer to the time we spend in bed, but away from our work.  We can not be as effective at our “work” if we do not balance it with “everything else.” 

An older gentleman I know recently told me that the reason he has lived so long and stayed healthy and happy throughout the process is that he lives by the rule of 8. Eight hours of rest, eight hours of work, and eight hours of play (he gardens, reads, goes to flea markets, spends time with his grandchildren and has the occasional glass of good scotch).

Many of us are good at telling people how much we love and appreciate them, but there are times when it’s something that can be said without conscientious depth of feeling.  “I love you,” as I run out the door isn’t good enough.  An e-mail to an old friend isn’t the same as a handwritten letter or even a phone call, but it often suffices for “connection” in a digital life. Let’s take note of what may be Marquez’s last public writing and remind ourselves to ponder what we truly value, what we choose to spend our time doing (and remember that it is a choice), and take the time to reflect on our days, challenge ourselves to live better tomorrows, and enjoy it all in the process.

Farewell Letter

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

For reasons of health, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia’s illustrious Nobel Laureate for literature, has declared his retirement from public life. He has terminal cancer and sends this letter of farewell to friends and lovers of literature.

If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.

I wouldn’t, possibly, say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful l of all I say.

I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.

I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.

I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.

If God would give me a little bit more of life, I would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.

To all men, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.

I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.

To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.

I have learned so much with you all, I have learned that everybody wants to live on top of the mountain, without knowing that true happiness is obtained in the journey taken & the form used to reach the top of the hill.

I have learned that when a newborn baby holds, with its little hand, his father’s finger, it has trapped him for the rest of his life.

I have learned that a man has the right and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs help to get up from the ground.

Say always what you feel, not what you think. If I knew that today is the last time that that I am going to see you asleep, I would hug you with all my strength and I would pray to the Lord to let me be the guardian angel of your soul.

If I knew that these are the last moments to see you, I would say “I love you.”

There is always tomorrow, and life gives us another opportunity to do things right, but in case I am wrong, and today is all that is left to me, I would love to tell you how much I love you & that I will never forget you.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old. Today could be the last time to see your loved ones, which is why you mustn’t wait; do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives. I am sure you will be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them their last wish.

Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them and love them. Love them and treat them well; take your time to tell them “I am sorry,” “forgive me, “please,” “thank you,” and all those loving words you know.

Nobody will know you for your secret thought. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength to express them.

Show your friends and loved ones how important they are to you.

Send this letter to those you love. If you don’t do it today…tomorrow will be like yesterday, and if you never do it, it doesn’t matter either, the moment to do it is now.

For you, with much love,

Your Friend,
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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