I’m a big Baltimore sports fan. And so yesterday when I heard about Mo Gabba, I was deeply affected.
Mo wasn’t just a fan. He was a superfan. His local fame began when as young kid he would (without the knowledge of his mother) frequently call into Baltimore’s most popular sports radio station and hold court with his prodigious knowledge the Orioles and Ravens. His voice was unmistakeable.
Mo had one of those wonderful, you-can’t-possibly-be-that-upbeat-all-the-time type personalities. So infectious you couldn’t help crack a smile at the sound of his voice.
But Mo also had cancer. He had battled it since he was an infant. It took his eyes and his ability to walk. It took his childhood. And it took his life this week. He was 14-years-old.
I never met Mo. My exposure to him was through videos posted by the Orioles and Ravens as they invited him to special events over the years.
Even such, you only need a moment to feel the positivity that resonated from this child. It was something very real and extremely powerful. Despite the cards stacked against him, he was nothing but a fount of pure happiness.
The outpouring of sadness from the entire Baltimore sports community was nothing like I’ve ever seen. As Orioles writer Steve Melewski so aptly wrote, “That young man did more and impacted more people in 14 years than many can do in a lifetime”.
Mo’s passing got me thinking. And I think by writing. So I wrote a list.
- Be outside more often.
- Talk to my friends and family every day.
- Make love every day.
- Write letters to my (future) kids and nieces/nephews.
- Read all the great books I’d heard about.
- Become at peace with my mind.
- Sit and listen to nature.
- Eat lots of ice cream and watch favorite movies.
- Give strangers the benefit of the doubt.
- Stop working/trying to earn money.
- Give a lot of my money away.
- Visit the most impact places in my life.
- Know what it is to be truly grateful.
Later that night, I discussed all of this with some close friends. We got to talking about Bucket Lists and everyone shared what might be on theirs.
These are always fascinating conversations. Having been built to survive, death is the most powerful motivator we have. Confronting one’s own mortality is a wonderful way to cut through any bullshit that has attached itself to your life.
Among the answers, some had to do with possessions. Most were about the people they loved or places they wanted to go.
In reviewing my list, I realized that most were not one-off items. They were practices. Habits.
Being outside more often. Sitting and listening to nature. Becoming at peace with my mind. Talking to my friends and family everyday. Reading. Writing. Making love. Traveling.
These are not boxes to tick. They are ways of living. Rather than a Bucket List, I had created a list of Bucket Habits.
I’ve been reading some basic philosophy lately. It’s a topic that, sadly, my education omitted until this point.
It was here I found this Francis Bacon quote:
The way of fortune is like the milky way in the sky; which is a number of small stars, not seen asunder, but giving light together: so it is a number of little and scarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties and customs, that make men fortunate.Francis Bacon
My translation: It is the number of small good habits, that amount to a good life.
This is what Mo made me think about; he made me cut to the core of what is most important by viewing it through the lens of my own mortality. And as it turns out, what is most important to me are mostly habits. “Faculties and customs” as Bacon would say. Ways of being that I can begin to embody today. Right now.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, writes:
Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of our new identity.
What a gift Mo has given. To not only get a glimpse of what is most important in the end but be able to act on it today.