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The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

How often do you enjoy every sandwich?

Today is November 24 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you enjoy every sandwich?” It is far too easy to allow the chaos to drown out the memories of those who have gone before us; and it is equally simply to rush through each meal as you put in the daily grind.

Those who navigate the chaos, however, will often remind you to do both: keep those who have gone before you in your heart and remember to enjoy every sandwich. One such person was musician Warren Zevon.

Shortly after being diagnosed with mesothelioma Warren Zevon was featured on the October 30, 2002, episode of the Late Show with David Letterman. Letterman requested that Zevon be the only guest for the entire hour.

The band played "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" as his introduction. Zevon performed several songs and spoke at length about his illness. Zevon had been a frequent guest and occasional substitute bandleader on Letterman's television shows since Late Night was first broadcast in 1982.

Zevon noted, "I might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years." It was during this broadcast that, when asked by Letterman if he knew something more about life and death now, he first offered his oft-quoted insight on dying: "Enjoy every sandwich."

He also thanked Letterman for his years of support, calling him "the best friend my music's ever had". For his final song of the evening, and his final public performance, Zevon performed "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" at Letterman's request.

In the green room after the show, Zevon presented Letterman with the guitar that he always used on the show, with a single request: "Here, I want you to have this, take good care of it." Zevon died of mesothelioma on September 7, 2003, aged 56, at his home in Los Angeles. His body was cremated, and his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles.

"Keep Me in Your Heart" is the last track of Warren Zevon's final album The Wind, released in 2003. Zevon intended the song to be his final farewell. He told VH1 that "I don’t think anybody knows quite what to do when they get the diagnosis. I picked up the guitar and found myself writing this kind of farewell. Instantly I realized I’d found what to do with myself. On reflection it might be a little bit of a ‘woe is me’ song, but it made me realize what I was going to do with the rest of the time. It may be the last song on the album, but it was the first song I wrote."

Here are the lyrics to “Keep Me In Your Heart For A While:”

Shadows are fallin' and I'm runnin' out of breath

Keep me in your heart for a while

If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less

Keep me in your heart for a while

When you get up in the mornin' and you see that crazy sun

Keep me in your heart for a while

There's a train leavin' nightly called "When All is Said and Done"

Keep me in your heart for a while

Sometimes when you're doin' simple things around the house

Maybe you'll think of me and smile

You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse

Keep me in your heart for a while

Hold me in your thoughts

Take me to your dreams

Touch me as I fall into view

When the winter comes

Keep the fires lit

And I will be right next to you

Engine driver's headed north up to Pleasant Stream

These wheels keep turnin' but they're runnin' out of steam

Keep me in your heart for a while

In the 1986 British historical drama The Mission, about the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in 18th century South America directed by Roland Joffe and starring Robert De Niro and Liam Neeson, the last line of the movie is “the spirit of the dead will survive in the memory of the living.” As Zevon would write "keep me in your heart for a while."

  • How often do you enjoy each sandwich?

  • Do you find yourself so caught up in the chaos that you forget to enjoy life?

  • How often do you remind yourself to keep those who have gone before you in your heart?

  • What small step can you take today to enjoy life and remind yourself of those who are no longer with us?

  • How often do you remind yourself that ‘the spirit of those who have died will survive in your memory?’

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