This column originally appeared May 29, 2009, in issue 1721
Anyone (and everyone) with email has received inspirational, motivational, tear-jerking pieces that tug at the heart strings. Often there is music or poignant images. Way too often there is the exhortation to send this along to ten or 12 people in the next seven minutes.
I admit that most of the time I read and delete. Sometimes I don’t even open them for days or weeks because they are a huge time drain. I now have a folder that I save the exceptional ones in so I can reread them if I ever want to. Otherwise, they are gone.
Tonight as I write this I wish I had some trite, sentimental lessons for life to read and take comfort in. It is time for reflection, for pausing and taking stock, for making course corrections, for counting blessings. The reality is this: as much as we sometimes look longingly at other people’s lives and luck or sometimes compare ourselves to others and find ourselves wanting, the life we have is the best possible life for us.
It is a mishmash of results of all the decisions we’ve made and the actions we’ve taken. It is the sum total of genetics, nature and nurture, karma, opportunities taken or missed, serendipity, dumb luck, and intention. Ideally, we are the heroes and heroines of our lives and the masters of our destinies.
When I heard a few days ago that a woman I know, who’s younger than me, is facing a double mastectomy I was stunned and saddened. It is another grim reminder that life can blindside us at any time without a moment’s notice. And while I hope her journey has a happy ending I can’t help but think about what I would do with such a diagnosis. I want to take the life lesson from her misfortune and reap the benefits for myself and those I care about without having to live through this terrible ordeal.
At the risk of repeating what we’ve all heard and read before: I plan to burn my candles instead of saving them for some special occasion. Likewise for the best bedding and dinnerware. I’m going to forgive more (and sooner) than I usually do. I’m going to spend more time this summer smelling the roses than weeding around them. I’m going to sleep when I’m tired and eat when I’m hungry.
I’m going to spend more time with family and friends. Laugh more, overanalyze less. Walk each day. Plan more mini getaways than the one big trip that may not materialize. Delight in the miracle of life as a grandbaby arrives. Bask in the job well done in raising two wonderful kids. Give thanks for my blessed life.
Never miss an opportunity to say thank you, to lift someone up with words of praise or encouragement. Shed those people, habits, things, and practices that don’t enrich my life. Draw close that which does. Learn to accept what is rather than bucking life at every turn because today is the only day I’m sure of, from where I sit.