Today I listened to both of my daughters cry, and to my son try not to. On the surface, sadness over the loss of their grandfather. Underneath, guilt over lost time, and the uneasiness that accompanies the stark realities of mortality.
All I can do is listen, and try to comfort them with reminders that their Grandpa had a good life, and isn’t suffering any longer. Though it’s not the time for a lecture, this is what I’d like to tell them, and I’m sure their Grandpa would agree with me.
Life is short. We seem to think that we’ll live forever. We put off the dream vacation for another year (or five), because we all assume we have another year (or five). We don’t tell the ones we love how much we love them often enough because we assume there’s always tomorrow. And we worry. Wow, do we worry. We stick it out in miserable jobs and situations because we’re afraid of the risk of seeking what we want. What if we don’t make enough money? What if we end up alone? We don’t reach high enough or far enough because we’re worried we’ll fail, forgetting that failing is ok, hell it’s NECESSARY, but settling for mediocrity is not.
We think we’ve got forever. We think we’re just one new job or new relationship away from being happy. We get so caught up in keeping up, that we neglect the most precious and fragile thing we have: moments we’ll never see again. We talk of killing time, passing time, and getting through the week, forgetting we’re wishing away the moments that comprise our lives.
Life is short. None of us get out alive. We’ve got less time than we think.
Live your life. Today. Not when you have some extra money, or once the kids are grown, or when you retire. Today. I know there are a million reasons you can’t rejoice in your day: you’re sick, you’re lonely, you’re broke, you’re stressed. I know. Life is not only short, it is also sometimes intensely difficult. But I think sometimes our reasons are really our excuses. Take a hard look at your priorities. No one is going to live your life on your behalf. You have to do it. You have to do it today, because some day soon….and it will seem so soon….your time will be up.
Don’t put off that lunch with a friend. Don’t forego your next birthday celebration. Don’t decide you can’t take that vacation. Don’t dismiss your dreams as unrealistic. Don’t spend 8 hours (or more!) a day at a job doing something that doesn’t make you happy and fulfilled and proud.
There’s no way to wrap this up nice and neat and tie it with a bow, but speaking of bows…. This Christmas, don’t worry so much about what you buy and wrap for someone. Give them your time. Give them a hug. Give them some laughter. Give them your love. Make memories.