Do you live your life?
I know, this seems like the generic type of question you’d see stenciled on the wall next to “Live, love, laugh”. But really, truly, ask yourself that question.
Our life is made up of beginnings and endings. When our life begins, for many years, we see only beginnings. The first time we laughed, the first time we cried. As life moves on, we begin to see the endings. The last time your mother held you in her arms. The last time you played with your childhood friends.
If, in the moment, we realized that it would be the last time, I think we would all go insane. Would we shun meeting other people? A beginning signals an eventual end, after all. If I make a new friend, that friendship will eventually end. Anything that begins must end. When my daughter was born, I had to recognize that eventually, her life will also end. How? Will she die in secret, hiding from someone chasing her? Will she die surrounded by her family in the twilight years of her life? Will she die next week?
I can never know. And maybe this not knowing is the magic of life. We have to live our life as if the ending will never come. We have to give ourselves to the eventuality of finishes so that we can have the now. Dwell too much on the endings and you’ll miss the now.
One year ago, my dad died. It was sudden and he was still young. He died in January. If I had realized that the previous thanksgiving was going to be our last, would I have acted differently? Probably. The Christmas before he died, we knew. He had an aggressive form of brain cancer and we knew he was going to die soon. I felt like I was being bludgeoned to death emotionally. We shed many tears and overall the affair was depressing. Standing in stark contrast, Thanksgiving was fun. We played football that morning and then spent the day doing non-important things. We played monopoly. We ate more food than the whole previous week. We laughed and had fun. If we’d had the knowledge of his imminent death hanging over us, it would have been a morose affair. I know because we got his diagnosis a few weeks before Christmas, and it was more painful than I can express.
So, yes, life is made up of beginnings and endings. But happiness can only be found in dwelling on the in-between. Don’t worry if this will be the last time. It won’t change the inevitability of the ending.
In my life, I have found myself obsessing over the end. Wondering how long life can go on. We brush with death more often than we would like to admit. Every time you drive, death is a heartbeat away. Because life isn’t ultimately in our control.
Or is it?
I don’t mean to say that life is controlled by a god or by other people. I don’t even think I believed in Chance. I do believe that there is something else holding the framework of life together. Maybe it’s a force like chance but closer to destiny. Something is pulling the strings. I can picture her, smiling and crying, shedding tears of heartbreak and joy with us as our lives unfold. Through it all, her eyes sparkle with the excitement of LIFE. We breathe, we change, we laugh, we pain, and all the while, She pulls the strings.
The great deception, however, is that She (or whatever deity you choose to believe in) pulls all of life’s strings. In the great revelation of your life, you must realize that YOU hold the strings that control your life.
What an empowering thought.
I have to believe that my life will be something greater than just mundane every days stacked together to make a life. Every day, I walk through life, doing the normal and boring activities of a normal life. If you were to take a step back, however, what would you see? Some boring tapestry of brown and beige lines, no pops of color or change?
No. I’m working my whole life to weave a tapestry of beauty and happiness. I can recognize that the boring details of life and necessary, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I know I’m naïve, but if I can recognize that fact, doesn’t that defeat my naiveté?
Life isn’t controlled by destiny or God. She doesn’t force things to happen. No, my dad didn’t die because it was the “will of God.” He died because his brain grew a tumor that eventually stopped his life.
Destiny must have a terrible but exhilarating existence. She can’t control the lives of the people she watches, she can’t actually affect change, but she knows. She knows the endings and the beginnings. She holds a terrible secret, the worst secret one can hold.
I ask again, do you love your life? Can you look at your situation and say that you are truly happy? If you answered yes, then continue onward, looking always to bless those around you.
If not, I ask you to take a hard look at your own life. Yes, life is a messy, complicated, sticky affair. But it’s under your control. It may be difficult to change your situation. But I promise it is possible. Sit down and write the steps you would need to take. The people you would need to confront. The things you would need to cut out. Write down the timeline, how long it will take to get there. Then do it.
Everything in between your first breath and your last is up to you.
What will you do with it?