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Rabbi Daniel Cohen

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A Tribute to Nora Ephron: Living Sleeplessly

Posted: 06/27/2012 11:38 pm

The blogosphere is aflutter with reflections on the life of Nora Ephron, the gifted screenwriter. We mourn her passing and celebrate her achievements. The news remains in our minds for about 24 hours, more likely 5 minutes, and then we move on to the next news item. Like most of us, I did not know Nora personally but her films touched many of us. Our collective sigh at her passing offers an opportunity for reverse engineering our lives. Reverse engineering is a philosophy of living to capture moments of awakening to enrich and energize our day to day life. How often do we attend a funeral and on the way out the door comment "I hope they speak about me the way they spoke about that person" only to let the feeling waft away as we immerse back in the hustle of life. Imagine if we could harness these moments to develop a strategy for a more fulfilled life?

What can we learn from Nora Ephron? Two of my favorite movies are "You've Got Mail "and "Sleepless in Seattle." Upon reflection, I realize that Nora understood intuitively the foundations of leading a life of significance and impact. Numerous scenes from these films embody the seven principles of reverse engineering you life:

Seize Meditative Moments

Sam Baldwin and Annie Reed gazing at the starry night crystallizes the desire in all of us to discover a meditative moment. How do we craft moments of reflection to turn off the outside world and awaken our inner selves?

Dream On and Up

Finding the time and space to be alone fuels the dreams in our hearts and minds. What kind of life do we truly want to live? Do our priorities today reflect our life aspirations? The lead characters dream of finding happiness in love. What are your dreams?

Courageous Choices

Sadly, our most significant choices are at Starbucks. As Joe Fox reflects, "The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino." Yet, every day, we are confronted by hundred of moral choices. Do we value the gift of free choice to express our deepest values or do we live on cruise control and make decisions out of convenience and not conviction?

Make Memories

Do we appreciate the impact of memories we create in the hearts and minds of family and friends? Craft a memory or shared experience reflective of your dreams and values. Every encounter with another human being -- a spouse, a child, a friend can be an experience of a life time. When Dr. Marcia Fieldstone asks Sam what was so special about his wife Maggie, Sam explains, "Well, it was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together... and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home... only to no home I'd ever known... I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like... magic." What are the tiny things you are doing today for a loved one or a friend?

Live Inspired

The greatest pleasures in life emerge from discovering the meaning of every moment. When stars are aligned we experience a deep joy and life affirmation. Who can forget the scene on the Empire State Building when Sam and Annie find each other -- it is Heaven on Earth. Yet, Sam and Annie also realize at this moment that all of the twist and turns of fate lead to their destiny. Living Inspired means recognizes the inspiration in every flower or friend. How do we transform a mundane moment into one of radical amazement.

Be the Mission and the Messenger

Have you ever been touched by an angel? Has someone come into your life who guided you at the right time? Have you been an angel for someone else? We are messengers and every day offers infinite opportunities to make a difference in someone's life. Jonah is Sam's angel. He persuades his father to go on the air to talk about how much he misses Maggie. Hundreds of women from around the country hear the program, and touched by the story, write to Sam. Becky is Annie's angel. Annie impulsively writes a letter suggesting that Sam meet her on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day. She does not intend to mail it, but her friend and editor Becky does it for her and agrees to send Annie to Seattle to "look into doing a story on those radio shows." Be an angel for someone today.

Discover Your Renewable Energy

Reverse engineering is a life-long approach to developing your potential and making a mark on the world. Nora's films embody the ability we possess to maximize our unique potential each day. As Nora expressed, "Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim." We cannot control what happens to us but we can control what happens inside of us. Life is a gift and every day a blessing.

In a day or two from now, let Nora's legacy live in you. Reverse engineer your life. Do not sleep through it but stay awake and sleepless not only in Seattle but in yourself.

 
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