“I would like to rise and go
Where the golden apples grow”.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Live in the moment. Seize the day. Carpe diem.
We’re reminded to live like this, because enough people have been jolted out of complacency when they hear of a friend’s kids killed in a car accident, when they see that their pregnancy won’t continue to term, when their marriage explodes to smithereens. We’re jolted when we catch a glimpse of a World Vision commercial, or hear of teens drowning in the lake, or call an elderly friend and discover she’s passed away.
Our days are limited, we know it. We have so many reminders that we daily ignore. Then there is that one day, when that one thing happens, where we can no longer deny what we’ve been told ad nauseum: our days are numbered. Then we stop to reconsider the content of our life. Are we living beyond regrets, enjoying every moment, not caring what others think, naming it and claiming it, or living a life well-lived?
Live beyond regrets. Sounds nice. Perfection isn’t ours to capture so we’ll never be mistake-absent. But we can bestow grace on those that need our grace, and even harder still, extend it to ourselves.
Enjoy every moment. We all know that phrase is a pie in the sky notion–not gonna happen every moment if you have dishes to wash, again, or more than one child learning peace-making skills, or your achy hips won’t sleep on the same side all night. Not EVERY moment is good.
Don’t care what others think. You teach people how to treat you, that is true. But you are never NOT going to care what everyone thinks—that’s called sociopathic diagnosis. You were born to care, commune, and connect.
Name it to claim it. If you think you can’t do what you want to do, you won’t. You’ll overlook opportunities staring right at you. But there are seven billion people on this planet, and not everyone can own the biggest house on the block, fly their private jet, graduate medical school, mediate the middle east or have their name in lights.
Live a life well-lived. Sit with your people, commune–the people in your neighbourhood, your churches, your kids’ dance classes and the lady teaching piano. Learn from them, share with them and share what you know; be present. And do the things you want to do. Though it’s awful hard to change some circumstances, keep moving towards occupying the everyday with the things you want to do.
Don’t just write a bucket list of the top ten things I want to do before I die. Do a ‘what am I going to do today that I WANT to do today’ list. If the Knitting Pinterest board sits untouched, time to change that. If you plan to learn the piano, have your daughter teach you. If you don’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen outdoing Martha, don’t. Or you’ve had enough with that math program, find something else. You want to save for Paris—set money aside every day. You like a cappuccino with a book every morning, set an alarm clock.
There was this teenage bucket list dream I had, volunteering in Africa. Hard to imagine that it actually came true. When I walk past our front yard firepit, my senses question where I am? The fragrance of Africa–burnt garbage.
I checked that dream off the list, but that dream didn’t live up to its romantic notions. Amped up on anti-malarials and stomach-protectant Dukoral, I vaccinated against nearly everything, flew eighteen hours (in four planes) with four children over five days and drove three hours crammed in the back of an ambulance up 6000 feet into the Great Rift Valley where I would welcome water shortages, rice and beans, and irregular electricity, spend my every day with people that didn’t get me but encourage complete strangers by the mere act of my presence. It wasn’t Jane Goodall romantic, but it was exhilarating. A life changer toward gratefulness, simplicity, sharing, and carpe dieming the rest of my life.
When I was on my way home, luxuriating in a four star Parisian hotel, I wrote in one of my final blogs, “It was a bittersweet goodbye to Africa. I’d always wanted to go, so I’m worried I’ll never come back. But it’s like the moment when you know you’re finished having children, you can’t imagine not carrying another baby, not holding another newly birthed baby in your arms…you want to know that you can have that experience again, but then, really, no, actually you don’t want to do that again”.
In my life well-lived, I aspire to sharing my time in the third world. It’s hard to shift gears and say that my children’s new friendships or my house building project gets put on hold. It’s even more difficult that I’m about to enter into a non-spa-like restricted dieting regimen. Or wondering if we’re bringing enough water cleaning tablets, and clothing ourselves appropriately to fend off anopheles mosquitos sharing their malarial gifts.
Now we get to do it all again. I welcome you to join me on my other blog, followthewiedricks.wordpress.com, as we count down to our next trip to Africa. This time, West Africa–the country of Ghana.
“Look closely at the present you are constructing.
It should look like the future you are dreaming”.