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This morning, I received news that our neighbor passed away last night.
I did not know her well but always said “hello” when presented with the opportunity. I always made it a priority to shovel her sidewalk after it snowed, as she was older and I didn’t want her to get hurt. In return, she put salt down on our sidewalk. None of us ever announced or arranged these gestures; they just happened. It was an unspoken understanding.
On Halloween, we gave out candy to her granddaughter and had short discussions about our common landlord. We were what you would call neighborly.
She was supposed to retire this spring and enjoy her life in different ways–away from the hamster wheel of 9 to 5. Instead, she was diagnosed with cancer a month ago and, now, she is gone from this earth and leaves a void.
Her job was posted on the job search site a week ago—only proving to the general public that our work positions are replaceable, yet we do not get another chance at a “do-over.”
Life has a way to send us these direct and indirect messages all the time. They are heartbreaking, yet reveal a truth that we are all aware of, but choose to ignore:
Life is short. Really short!
Our existence is in question from the moment we are born. We don’t know how much time is designated to us, yet we generally feel like we will live forever and that there is “always more time.” Well, there is not.
When we say, “I will do this later,” we are making a statement that we can’t promise to fulfill. We don’t know exactly what later truly means; it’s just an excuse to punt the task to some moment down the road, not actually knowing when we will pick up on it again. It’s sad.
So often, we live either in the past by dwelling on things others have said, done, or not done in regard to ourselves or we worry about the future by dreading upcoming appointments, conversations, tasks, or fulfilling a promise. Sometimes, our worries turn into pure anxiety and the unknown outcome drives us “mad” and completely wipes out the opportunity to just be present.
Worry is merely creating problems or imaginary circumstances that might never even happen. They literally rob us of the enjoyment of the present time.
Being present—here and now. That is what life should be all about. We always contemplate what people are thinking about us, and then shape and direct our actions based on other peoples’ opinions. That is a horrible and sad way of going through life.
Essentially, it means that we are living other peoples’ lives versus our own; we are a reflection of others’ opinions, beliefs, standards, assumptions, and sometimes even their own dreams. We constantly worry about our own actions by measuring them against society’s expectations. We calibrate our lives accordingly when we believe the outcome of our decision-making or behaviors won’t turn out to others’ liking.
Why? Why do we keep doing this?
We keep reminding ourselves that we only have this one life, yet we bargain against it by telling ourselves that “I will do XYZ when” or “once I have finished this, I will get to do XYZ”.
Yes, it is important to take care and look out for people we care about, but that needs to include ourselves, too. We can’t constantly try to make other peoples’ lives easier, put them first, and forget that our own life matters and is valuable just like theirs.
We help build others’ dreams, but not our own. We make travel arrangements for others, but don’t go anywhere ourselves. We want to wait until some imaginary “perfect” moment that might or might not come. Most likely, it won’t come, because there is no such thing as perfection as that itself is, again, depending on the perception from the outside.
We constantly dampen our inner pull of participating in life’s adventures, places we want to go, foods we want to eat, activities we want to do. I am not saying to throw all of our responsibilities out the window (some people truly depend on us), but I am encouraging you to move your name way up on the list of priorities.
Make your life happen. We are not on this earth to grow up, work, and die.
We are here to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in our very own.
Enjoy this one life, fully. Completely emerge yourself in it. The end is inevitable; so you might as well be sensibly selfish!
Do what makes you happy. That is the most important thing—to do what makes you happy!