They say it’s always life that gets in the way of actually living. It sounds like some mind-boggling 1950’s beatnik, but it’s true. Really, really true.
It’s true that March has most definitely come in like a lion. A roaring, scary lion at that, and I’m not just speaking of the weather here. It’s been a tough couple of weeks.
In addition to seeing the sixth anniversary of my father’s death come and go, I also saw the death of two other people – one of my mother’s coworkers and a member of our church. Indeed, it seems to be a sad time for many people, and I often wonder, now more than ever: How can we move past life and get to and appreciate the good part – living? And why does it take death sometimes to give us that little extra push that we so obviously and desperately need?
MORE JUICE AFTER THE JUMP…
It’s so easy to get swept up in the “busyness” of life. I know this all too well. There are lists to make (lists of things you think are so important, of course, that every item needs to be checked off within a 24-hour period), people to call (usually work-related), events to plan (events you probably will spend more time planning than actually enjoying) and just generally, so many things you have to do that the very thought of them puts you in a frenzied state.
Life, ironically, can seem like it’s sucking the living right out of your very soul. Before you know it, you’re feeling like a drone on a large assembly line – going through the motions just for the sake of, well, getting it all done and checked off that ever-growing list, which is large enough now to fill up an entire notebook.
You just keep running, trying and trying tirelessly to catch up, but the second you feel yourself approaching the finish line? Ooops. You just thought of 10 more things to add to the list. It looks like you can’t take those running shoes off just yet. Now you finally understand why they call it a “rat race.”
And too often, the people in your life take a backseat to, well, life itself. Words go left unsaid. Get-togethers get postponed, usually indefinitely. It’s as if you are merely ghosts or ships passing each other in the night – a quick kiss before you rush out of the house or a half hug before bed.
But then something happens that jars you out of your go-go-go coma. It could be something as serious as the health crisis of a loved one or something not-so-serious like an old friend moving across the country; while not heartbreaking, it pokes a little hole in the bubble you’ve come to find yourself living in.
Suddenly all that other stuff – the stuff you once thought was crucial – doesn’t seem so important anymore. In fact, it all seems rather pointless and trivial, doesn’t it?
I’m not usually one to be a preacher (our church friend could have attested to this), but don’t let tomorrow’s to-do list get in the way of today’s must-dos. Put that to-do list away (or be a big, bad rebel and throw it in the trash). Do something fun and spontaneous with your family. Just be with them, hug them and hold them close, because in the end, that’s really all that matters anyway. That is, really, the true sign of living. Unlike life, there’s no script to following for living.
The only requirement? Engage yourself fully in it and be present. Living may be messy. Living may be complicated. But when you look back on your “living” in 20 years, I bet you’ll see more smiles and laughter than you could ever dream of seeing.
My mother has always said “never go to bed angry.” She’s a pretty smart lady, so I’ve always lived by this notion. I always, much to the chagrin on my sister and mother, tell them how much I love them. I probably tell them at least 20 times a day; it’s my little reminder to them so they never, ever forget what is most important to me. And, probably much to their chagrin too, I’m going to keep on saying it. Because even thinking about not saying it is heartbreaking enough. So tell someone close to you – heck, tell 10 people – how much you love them today, tomorrow and always. You never know when the chance will have passed you by.