I wrote this piece back in 2012, but it seems quite pertinent right now. I thought I’d share it since we are all thinking a bit more about our mortality given we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Do your best to stay well, my friends! I will do the same.
We all know that we don’t have long on this earth. That’s the case, truly, no matter our age or our health. We are here but for a while under the best of circumstances. And we all know the admonitions we’ve heard all of our lives about seizing the moment, smelling the roses, living as if you’re dying, etc., all of which are imperatives that are meant to have us experience the world fully through all of our senses: sight, smell, sound, taste and touch, as well as not to pass up opportunities that will enrich and challenge us. But still, here we sit, many of us stuck in our day-to-day routines, whether good ones or bad, never venturing further than the bank or church with the exception of a new restaurant to visit or a new movie to see. We have heard of the “Bucket List,” and some of you may have even made one to help kick start the sedentary nature of our regular lives, and of those who have made that list – good for you! – I suspect only a few items have been checked off.
And so here we sit, all knowing that we are going to die – some sooner, some later, but all definitely – and we lament that love we didn’t pursue, or that career we gave up on too easily, or that turn in the road we didn’t take, and salve our wounds by staring at programs on television about people who did dream, or take that risk, or put their hearts on the line. And we patter into our kitchens and get a little something else to eat though we know that more calories are not going to fill up that void that has an ache attached.
So, what would I say to you, ye who are in the same state as I, that could bring any truth or impart any wisdom? I have none but what others have said before me, far more articulately than I. Wake up every day and live life awake all day long. Go a different route to the bank, try riding a bike instead of driving the car, skip instead of saunter. Sing loud and clear regardless of the quality of your voice, and keep the television turned off at least for most of the day and evening. Go outside and sit in the park or your backyard or at a coffee shop and listen, smell, taste, touch and look around in that space, and at the same time, relax your shoulders and breathe. Take a cold shower just to wake your senses up, then hop in a warm bath with bubbles just to calm them down. Eat and drink in moderation, but don’t hold back on merriment of any kind, but especially anything that makes you laugh. Triple points for things that make you laugh so hard you’re hopping first on one foot and then another.
Life is imperfect whether it be the job you hate, the spouse who you no longer love or the temperature in a restaurant you can’t control. Therefore, acceptance seems necessary in order to obtain any real happiness. There is great comfort in accepting that we are limited in our abilities, our solutions, and our plans and that even on the best day, we’re still capable of screwing the whole thing up. So what to do? Embrace the imperfection. Relish its universality. It’s the one aspect of life that we truly all share, regardless of race, creed, or economic status. We all make mistakes, some bigger than other, but mistakes nonetheless, and that is a great thing. These mistakes remind us of our humanity. They also help us to forgive those who have made mistakes as well because of their imperfection.
I wish I had some great wisdom to share that would help you and me live our lives happier, healthier, or in a more fulfilling way. But the truth is that I don’t. All I know to say is something that works for me: Get up each day and do what needs to be done, add gratitude to the mix, plus laughter, physical affection, and good food, then go from there. A “Bucket List” would probably be an excellent idea, but only if it’s made up of people, places and things that bring a smile.
If you have wisdom to impart, please share it in the Comments section. I think we could all benefit from each other’s collective experience on this subject.
Happy Thursday evening to you all.