One life. That’s all you get. No dress rehearsals. No do-overs. No second chances (at least for most of you without a near death experience).
Yeah, I know, you’ve heard this before. You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so make every day count. Unfortunately most of us will take tomorrow for granted and some of us just assume we are going to be here for a long time. If your 40, you think, hey, I have another 40 years to make things happen, to make memories, accomplish what I want, go on that trip, get in shape or make that change. Plenty of time.
I wish we did, but it’s just not the case, as I was starkly reminded over the last few months.
Life is short and friends you just never know when your time is up.
In the picture above, that’s my friend Rusty and I on a fishing trip a few years back. We talked a bit on New Year’s morning. Just two friends wishing each other a Happy New Year. Two fisherman excited about 2017, new water, new trips in the making. Two friends, with 18+ years of fishing trips and living life deeply together, raising families, creating memories and dreaming of new ones. Our conversation ended with a promise to fish more in 2017 and a good laugh. I always laughed talking to Rusty.
Little did I realize that would be the last conversation I would have with my good friend. Little did I realize our friendship and conversations were some of the gold nuggets in my life.
Four hours later he was gone. An undetected issue with his heart.
See, he was more than a fishing buddy. You don’t spend hours on a boat or hours driving to fishing destinations without forming a relationship that goes beyond fishing. I won’t get more days on the river with Rusty, but I will have the memories of our adventures, our great conversations, our struggles, our hopes and dreams.
I will miss him dearly.
Tough way to start a year. Tough reminder. You only get one.
Yes, Another reminder
Unfortunately, this was not my only experience with loss of life over the last few months. I was driving home one night in October last year and came upon what I thought was a car accident on the frontage road. As I slowed down, I realized that there was only one car in the road and I was puzzled, until I saw the young man lying on the pavement. Yes, he had been hit by the car stopped in the road and I must have been only minutes behind the horrific accident.
911 was called and as I rolled him over to help administer CPR, I could tell that the damage was too great. The paramedics worked to save his life, but it was too late.
I made my statement to the police and they let me go home.
Turns out some friends of ours knew of the young man. See, he was out delivering pizza’s on a dark road, next to the freeway. For some reason he did not see nor hear the car approaching as he dashed out from checking the mailbox to ensure he had the right house for his delivery. A delivery job, his second job. Just a young man trying to make his way in the world. Sad day for his family and friends.
At the time it was tragic, upsetting, in some ways easily forgotten, but as Rusty’s memorial is a few weeks behind me, I have been, shall you say, re-evaluating, well everything.
I mean, twice in less than three months and one a very good friend, no, make that a teammate in life. Is somebody trying to tell me something here? I am not necessarily superstitious, but I do pay attention to signs and events. After these two, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask,
What is going on? Is there something here I should be paying attention to?
As I have reflected back on my days, my priorities and my life, several things struck me, not sure why these came up, but they likely needed my attention for some time, it just took some very tough moments to bring them to the surface. My guess is some of these will resonate with you too.
Can we all just slow the hell down?
Every day we are all rushing around. In fact, I have been rushing around my whole life. Grow up, go to college, get a job, raise a family, fit in, don’t rock the boat, be responsible, blah, blah, blah. We are all so busy trying to get someplace or do something, we have forgotten to enjoy or even notice the journey.
Not to mention most of the places everyone is trying to get to is not the source of fulfillment in our lives anyway.
I know this has been true for me.
Yes, can’t we all take some time to smell the roses, notice the sunrise, talk to our kids, call a friend, go fishing, call your mom, hold a door open, watch the sunset. You get my drift. Stop, listen and watch, instead of flying around like a bat out of hell.
Let’s just say, I am more deliberate these days about how I am living and planning my life.
Busyness and rushing are out, noticing, listening and watching are in.
Get off the phone!
Ugh, technology – Love it. Hate it. Technology is amazing. I can find anyone, reach out digitally and find anything in seconds. I really wish sometimes I had to go looking for someone, like when I had to drive around when I was in high school. (not really)
But a price has been paid for all this ease.
Look, I shouldn’t have to tell adults to get off their phones and pay attention. Pay attention at home, at work, while you’re driving, while you are out to dinner with your significant other. If you are looking at your phone every 5-15 minutes, you are addicted.
Harsh I know, but our phones, our screens are the biggest barriers to connection, conversation and community.
I have succumbed many times to the facebook black hole, the internet black hole, the distraction black hole. All of these have robbed me of precious time and attention.
Less screen time, more face time. (not the app either)
Less thinking, More doing!
This one hurts.
I have spent a lifetime settling for what others wanted. Settling for work that brought zero life.
Settling, worried what others think.
Burying desires because it was not the responsible thing to think, let alone do.
Over the last few years it has come to my attention that we, yes, you and I get to choose what type of life we want to live.
I think about a lot of things I want to do. I have a bucket list a mile long. I am not short on ideas, dreams or desires.
What I am short on is action.
Comfort zone, excuses, distractions, rationalization, call it what you want, nothing happens without some concrete and in some cases massive action.
I want more action, less thinking.
I want more doing and experiencing, less wishing and hoping
I want more impulse, less planning.
I want more life, less worry.
I want more aliveness, less ho hum, less routine.
I once saw a sign – Action cures fear. A ton of truth.
Some of you have a big dream you have been postponing or maybe even written off. Dust off that desire, take a step, any old step.
Go cure your fear.
Do you need to slow down, take notice? Are you distracted? Are you settling in some area of your life?
You only get one – Consider this your reminder!