July 21, 2018

What Will you Do with this One Life of Yours?

I was crying as silently as a 10-year-old boy could.

Silently, because I didn’t want my parents to hear me. It’s not that I was embarrassed, but it was the middle of the night and I didn’t want to wake them. More importantly, I just wanted to be alone. Alone with my dog Chuckles, a black Labrador retriever, who was sprawled out on the floor of my room.

He was dying.

I got up from my bed, laid down next to him, and rested my head on his body. I felt his chest rise and fall. He was having trouble breathing.

Goddamn cancer.

My runny nose and tears were making his fur wet. He didn’t care. Dogs don’t care about anything trivial. I think he was just happy I was with him.

My parents took him to the vet the next day. They didn’t return with him. They both cried. He was their first baby. Before my sister and I, there was Chuckles—named that way because my parents left him alone for just two minutes as a puppy and in those two minutes, he jumped up on the table and engulfed an entire chuck steak.

And then he was gone.

And now I’m crying as I type to you. This memory, the one of his tear-soaked fur, feels as fresh as five minutes ago. But here I am, in a blink, 45 years old. What the hell happened?

I was just missing my dog in the fifth grade. A couple of breaths later, I was at a toga party in my freshman year in college. Then jumping into a fountain after graduation, becoming a bartender after 10 awful years in corporate America, writing a little book, and a few breaths later…I’m 45.

Anyone 65 will probably roll their eyes at me and say I’m still just a baby. And if you’re 25, those 20 years separating us will seem like a lifetime. But not so fast my friend. Just ask the 65-year-old.

What’s the point of this? Wait, I have to have a point? I can’t just talk about my dog? Fine. Here you go:

My point is to ask you: what’s your point?

Yes you. The person swapping their time to read these words right now. What’s your point? Tick tock, tick tock.

Listen, I don’t care what the Stones say, time isn’t on our side. The future isn’t coming “in the future.” The future is today. So, what’s it going to be? What’s your point? What are you going to do with this one life of yours?

Alright, calm down. Relax. We don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s impossible to have it all figured out anyway.

I’ve learned, finally, we make plans and God laughs. So, let me help you out a bit. I used to think the secret of life was to follow your passions with blinders on. Blinders on with middle fingers extended to the naysayers. But now that I’ve grown a little older and maybe a little wiser, I’ve realized that nothing means more to me than kindness. It’s the only way I measure success. It’s my only point. It’s why I’m here.

And in the end, it’s all that will matter.

Tread lightly on the words of others who say otherwise and you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor. With that said, if you don’t know what your point is, (and how could you really?), maybe try committing to a life of kindness.

Don’t worry about how. Just take it day by day. The universe will leave breadcrumbs for you. I promise. And then, by coupling kindness with pursuing passions, you may realize you a have a superpower.

Unfortunately it’s not the power to bring back our departed doggies, but it’s the power to stop time.

It seems as though time stops in the moments when you switch gears from doing to being. Especially when what you’re being is kind.

Now, if I can only do something about all of these gray hairs.

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Gabe Berman

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