Nothing is worth more than this day.
I found out yesterday morning that an old friend from high school died over the weekend. It was a shock… but I haven’t spoken to him in years. It was difficult for me to figure out how I felt about it. On one hand – I was speechless, because he was just such a staple at parties growing up. He was two years older than me, he was one of “those guys”… such a mother fucking partier. Not a… waste-case but just… yeah. We used to joke that, given his lifestyle, he should die of an OD or some ridiculous STD – but that instead he would outlive us all.
He isn’t the first one I’ve lost from my adolescence, nor was he the most poignant, exactly. But still. It’s difficult when someone who was a big part of your life once… hasn’t been in a while… and is then gone. You can’t exactly mourn as you would normally – because you don’t know them any more. But it still affects you… in addition to the fleeting wish that you did still know them.
I hope the surf’s up, buddy. This blog is for you.
Repost from 28 March 2007:
“It is interesting how everyone wants to live long, but no one wants to be old.”
After all of this, when I get off the phone, I think. I think about my grandmother, that she is in a nursing home and how she tells me she can’t do much any more. … I imagine being old, sitting around and not being able to do anything except reflect on your life. Reflect on what happened and what could have been. From what I know about my grandmother’s life, I would guess her could-have-beens outweigh her what-happeneds. I think about what she might regret and how little she can do about those regrets now.
Well. I have been thinking about this, kind of in the back of my mind, since the weekend. There are two things that stick with me, that I cannot shake.
One, our lives are so much shorter than we think they are. We can live til we’re 110, but we don’t get all those years to really live.
Two, regret. Plain and simple and … difficult.
What it comes down to is not complicated. Life is too fucking short – no matter how long it feels sometimes (like when you are sitting in a meeting with lots of other people who really just like to hear themselves talk). It is too short for fear, it is too short for regret. It is too short to be too busy.
These thoughts are not new to me. I have lived with regret over inaction in the past and I swore I never would again. So. I tended toward the other extreme (I guess). I have since done some things that I regret – but have always thought that at least I did something. And even if the end result was not what I wanted, at least I gave it a shot.
At least I went through with that, even if it was scary. At least I spoke up, I said what was in my heart or in my head, even if it came back to bite me in the ass.
“It is better to regret the things you’ve done, rather than those you did not do.”
I refuse to live life with regret over inaction.
However. I am also learning something new about regret. About life. I am learning that sometimes what you want requires patience. It requires being able to stand back and wait. Whether it is waiting for your fucking grad work to be over so you can attach those magic letters to the end of your name and (some) people will start to take you seriously. Or going through those jobs that suck so you can get the experience for the one you really want. Or for other things.
This is certainly new to me. The waiting (…it’s the hardest part).
But there is a balance, right. A balance between inaction for whatever reason (which can be an excuse – be it fear or just that you are just too damn busy), and patience, going through what is required before you can have what you want in life. You just have to make sure you know the difference.
The other thing I have kept thinking, over and over again, is also simple:
How would we live our lives, if we knew when we would die?
And, more than that, if we could do nothing to change when we died, all we could do is change what happened to us in the interim.
How would we live our lives differently? What would we hold on to, and what things in our lives would we no longer have patience for? What would we give up, get rid of, and what would we not allow to pass us by? And when our moment came, when we knew it would, would we be able to look back and say, “yes. I did exactly what I wanted to do with the time that was given to me.”
How many people actually get to say that? If we are lucky and we live into our 90s and are old and feeble in a nursing home, will we have our memories to keep us company… or will we be thinking about the might-have-beens?
Reach out. Grab life. I believe it is never too late, not until they put you six feet down. I also believe that great rewards in life often require great risk. Change what you want to change. Realize what is important, and what is not. Don’t allow yourself excuses any more – that is one thing we are all so fucking good at. Do something that scares you. Do something that makes you feel fabulous. Hold on to those that are special to you and don’t let them slip through the cracks of I-don’t-have-time-to-keep-in-touch.
Embrace the time that is given to you.
Don’t wait… unless you should.
“Nothing is worth more than this day” – Goethe
To this I add… what would we do differently if we knew when those close to us would die?
And that sometimes… the action you need is… to let go.
“…sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same…”
“I WILL NOT LIVE AN UNLIVED LIFE. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart, until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which comes to me as seed goes on to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.”
~ Dawna Markova