…As I look back over my life there were so many things left undone. Don’t let it happen to you. So many things I started and didn’t finish. For instance that carton of chocolate fudge ice cream in the freezer, I had better go finish that or I will regret it all afternoon.
Thus began the email from a friend whose memoir I worked on a couple years ago. He’s in his 80s and sent this essay (written by another author) out to a wide circle of friends and family with the comment:
READ THIS VERY SLOWLY… IT’S PRETTY PROFOUND.
Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven’t thought about it, don’t have it on their schedule, didn’t know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.
I got to thinking one day about all those people on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I’ve tried to be a little more flexible.
How many women out there will eat at home because their husbands didn’t suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word ‘refrigeration’ mean nothing to you?
How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched ‘Jeopardy’ on television?
I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, “How about going to lunch in a half hour?” She would gasp and stammer, “I can’t. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, it looks like rain.” And my personal favorite: “It’s Monday.”
She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.
Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect! We’ll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained. We’ll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We’ll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.
Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of “I’m going to,” “I plan on,” and
“Someday, when things are settled down a bit.”
When anyone calls my ‘seize the moment’ friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes and you’re ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.
My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It’s just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.
Now go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?
An aside from your’s truly—Here’s a few links to get you started:
Guess what? You don’t have to be rich or awesomely daring to have a fulfilling bucket list–it is yours so make of it what you will.
Can’t see yourself “Running with the bulls in Pamplona?” How about visiting a working ranch or farm and feeding a calf?
Not able to afford “Relaxing in Tahiti for 2 weeks?” How about retreating for a weekend to a gorgeous late half a day’s drive away?
“Mushing a dogsled” a bit out of reach? Find a friend with a big dog and this winter go to the
park, tie that puppy to your kid’s plastic sled and hang on. Mush, baby!
Here’s one you can do (I can help with that):
Okay–back to my friend’s essay:
Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry-go-round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask, “How are you?” Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, “We’ll do it tomorrow.” And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say “Hi?”
When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift thrown away… Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over. Show your friends how much you care…
“Life may not be the party we hoped for,
but while we are here, we might as well go flying!”
I’ll do a bit of confessing here. I’ve about wrapped up a memoir book for a couple here in southern New Mexico so, to celebrate, I bought a bottle of red wine and a big fat piece of tiramisu cake. I devoured the cake while reading this essay but will show some restraint with the wine and wait till tonight.
Living large my friends, love and blessings to you,