The Photo You Won’t Choose: A Talk About Life & Death

Julian S. Newman
3 min readSep 16, 2022


“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”- Randy Rausch, the Last Lecture

“You won’t know what you can do, until you do it.” — David Arnold

It’s my birthday this weekend and I want to talk about pictures. Not the carefully curated pictures we might place on our social media feed for all of our followers, friends, or fans.

I am talking about a picture that your family and friends (maybe fans), will see of you. It will most likely be a good picture. Well lit, perfected smile, full of life and happiness. The picture will be chosen by those that love you, closest to you, and will cherish you.

The crazy thing will be that you won’t be there to see it.

Because you will be dead.

I don’t mean to be morbid on the weekend of my born day, but I have been thinking about death lately.

Last Thursday I learned that my favorite comedian, David Arnold husband and father of daughters died the night before at 54 years old. At the moment I saw the news, I was listening to David speak about his dreams on the Ed Mylett podcast.

While hearing his voice, I heard that he was gone. It shook me. The shock of the news was reminiscent of when I heard of Kobe’s or Chadwick’s passing.

I read a post yesterday about a mom who is a Facebook friend who is going into hospice following her last cancer treatment.

She and her husband will tell their children soon.

Earlier this year an emerging worship leader at a local church passed away in the prime of her life.

I and my family buried my grandmother last month.

Some go early, others go late, but all of us go.

We have no assurances of how much time we get, but we can make the most of the time that we have. In the hustle and bustle of the day to day, it is easy to forget this truth.

A question I that came to me when I was jumping out an airplane:

If today is my last day, am I satisfied with the manner in which I have lived my life?

The ancient Romans would write on trees “memento mori” which means “remember we all have to die.”

Socrates said “practice death daily.” When we remember that we don’t have a zillion tomorrows, we won’t forget the preciousness of today.

I’ve started reciting 5 simple commmitments to help me remember:

  1. I Commit to Live Urgently: My Time is limited.
  2. I Commit to Live Gratefully: My Today is a Blessing.
  3. I Commit to Live Generously: My Giving helps Make the World Glow.
  4. I Commit to Live Purposely: My Life Will Make a Difference.
  5. I Commit to Live Meaningfully: My Hereafter Mustn’t Leave My Mind.

A practical way to do all five commitments in less than 24 hours. Take 20 dollars (or 10 if 20 is a stretch), and get them in one dollar bills. Over the next day, give the money away.

Give money to students at a bus stop, a person holding a sign asking for help, pay for the coffee of the person in line behind you. Do it laughing, while smiling, anonymously, and even with tears.

Watch the energy that is unleashed in people, notice the energy that is released within you.

With 20 dollars you can change the world. And change you.

We only have a few moments on this side of eternity.

Let’s make the most of them.

“When you were born you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice” — Robin Sharma



Julian S. Newman

Julian Newman, is a Diversity and Inclusion thought leader & imagination strategist from Wakanda. He also is the father of 4 amazing Queens as daughters.