“I would like to rise and go
Where the golden apples grow.”Robert Louis Stevenson
Seize the day. Carpe diem.
We’re jolted out of complacency when we hear of a friend’s child killed in a car accident, when we have a pregnancy not continue to term, when our marriage explodes. We’re jolted when we catch a glimpse of a World Vision commercial, or hear of a teenager drowning or when we call an elderly friend to catch up and discover she’s passed away. We’re jolted when we’re forced inside our homes because of a pandemic.
Our days are limited, we know it. We have many reminders that this is true, but given enough time, we can continue living and forget that this is our reality.
Then there is that one day, when that one thing happens, where we can no longer deny what we’ve been told: that our days are numbered. We finally stop to reconsider the content of our life. Are we living beyond regrets? Are we enjoying every moment? Are we learning not to care what others think?
Are we living a life well-lived?
Live beyond regrets. Perfection isn’t ours to capture, so we’ll never be mistake-absent. We can bestow grace on those that need our grace, and even more challenging, extend it to ourselves.
Enjoy every moment. This is not gonna happen every moment if you have dishes to wash, again, or more than one child learning peace-making skills, or you wake up with a crick in your neck. Not EVERY moment is good, but this is the moment we have, so enjoy it.
Learn not to care what others think. Teach people how to treat you. You are never NOT going to care what everyone thinks—that’s a sign of a sociopathic diagnosis. You were born to care, commune, and connect. But there is caring about others and caring too much.
Do the thing you want to do. If you think you can’t do what you want to do, you won’t. You’ll overlook opportunities staring right at you. 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, have their name in lights, or travel the world, but we all can do the thing inside us that we are meant to do.
Live a life well-lived. Sit with your people and commune. The people in our neighbourhoods, our churches, our kids’ dance classes and the lady teaching piano–these are our communities. 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, write “What am I going to do today that I WANT to do on today’s 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’ve had enough with that math program, find something else. You want to save for Paris, set money aside every day. You want 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. 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, we 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 we were introduced to water shortages, rice and beans, and irregular electricity. We spent every day with people that thought white people were novel, but we encouraged complete strangers by the mere act of our willingness to be there too.
This trip to Africa wasn’t Jane Goodall romantic, but it was exhilarating. A life changer toward living in gratefulness, simplicity, community, and carpe dieming the rest of my life.
It was a challenging trip, except on the way home where we luxuriated in a four-star Parisian hotel. I wrote: “It was a bittersweet goodbye to Africa. 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 developing world again. But until then, I will put into practice what I have learned: to carpe diem, seize the day, and live a life well-lived, today.
“Look closely at the present you are constructing.
It should look like the future you are dreaming”.
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Call to Adventure by Kevin MacLeod