Life is about moments. It is about breaths and heartbeats, not days or years. We hear all the time about how important it is to live life in the moment and, although it’s true, I fear we have become so accustomed to listening to it that we don’t actually HEAR it at all anymore. We go on about our daily lives, making plans and worrying about what needs to be done next instead of appreciating the moment we are in and the ones with whom we share it.
I have encountered a lot of losses in my life. I have lost many friends and family members over the years and each one has its own set of grief associated with it. Even the counselor I have seen over the years has said I’ve experienced more loss than most people. I suppose she is right but I told her recently the reason I have experienced such great losses in my life is because I believe in connecting deeply to those around me. When you open your heart up and truly love and connect to others in this life, your world is filled with such amazing joy and great love. Of course the other side of that equation is your world is also filled with great loss. It is a difficult thing to balance in your heart sometimes.
When I was young, I thought I’d never live to be 30. I was obviously wrong since that age has long since come and gone but I have always been very aware that life is short and none of us are guaranteed our next breath. This breath is all we have. NOW is all we have and if we choose to not live in the moment, then we are choosing not to live at all. Life is scary sometimes. The thought of what might be just around the corner can be paralyzing to us and cause us to spend all our time and energy planning for all the “what ifs” we can imagine. Somehow we believe that if we plan well enough and are disciplined enough to stick to those plans, then we will lessen the chance of something terrible coming into our world. Planning is not wrong but when we allow our plans to imprison us or even distract us from what is happening around us right now, then it only brings us more stress in life. Difficult things WILL come into our lives no matter how well we plan and, if we aren’t careful, we begin to somehow blame ourselves for not planning better. It is a warped perspective but it happens more often than it should.
Nothing will clarify your perspective more than serious illness – yours or that of someone you love. I helped take care of my best friend for many years as we fought cancer together and it caused us to take great advantage of every moment we shared whether her cancer was raging out of control or in remission. It caused us to not worry so much about what tomorrow would bring because focusing on tomorrow steals today from us. One day we wake up and find that our life has become a constant struggle…a struggle with health or finances, a struggle with our jobs, a struggle with family or friends. We spend our time trying to resolve the struggles instead of embracing the fact that getting up every morning is a gift! Annette eventually lost her battle with cancer but we won so much along the way. We won the “moments.”
I thought I would never in my life have to again face such a serious fight with cancer in someone I was that close to but sometimes life doesn’t turn out as we think it should. A year ago today, one of the people I am closest to was admitted to the hospital for what seemed to be a bad stomach flu. Within 3 days, she was diagnosed with cancer and was in surgery that turned out to be extremely extensive with a number of complications. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy and we had hoped that by the today’s anniversary we would be celebrating full remission. Instead, things shifted and she is beginning another series of treatments that is even more aggressive, with potential side effects that are also more aggressive and toxic, to try and get it all under control. I would love to say I have learned to trust God and live in the moment so well that I choose to celebrate that she is still with us…but I would be lying. I get terrified sometimes just like everyone else. The thought of eventually losing someone so close to me to the same disease all over again terrifies me because that pain is all to real in my heart even after all these years. It is too overwhelming to my spirit. Then I am reminded that to look ahead down ANY road in life serves only to distract us from the beauty of today. Doing so weakens us. It weakens our faith and sometimes even our resolve.
Life is uncertain. We all know it is true but it is exactly that truth that scares us to death. We don’t want to feel pain or loss. We don’t want our loved ones to feel pain or loss either. As a result, we endure a much greater loss than necessary as we let this moment slip away without acknowledging the beauty it contains. We need to stop looking ahead. We need to stop avoiding connections in life. We need to stop being afraid to let down our guard and be who we are on the inside. We need to love with all our hearts and forgive just as deeply. We need to fulfill our true calling NOW and stop waiting for a “better time” to do so. There is no better time. As a matter of fact, there may be no time left at all.
So live in this moment…in this breath and this heartbeat. Fill it with joy and love and the most beautiful connections. And if you are blessed to have another moment, fill it with the same. It is the only way to truly be free.