“The trouble is, you think you have time.” – Buddha
You always think you have more time. Until you don’t.
I was talking to a friend about this the other day. About how you need to tell people that you love “I love you” because you never know when you may get another chance. Hug them while you can, too. Enjoy that sunrise or sunset. Chase your dreams. Tickle your children and do tempera paint handprint art with them, because in a few short years, you will marvel at how small their hands were.
Trust me on that. My son’s hands are now exactly the same size as mine, and he isn’t ten yet. He’s also grown well past my chin and is well on his way to being much taller than I. Snuggle them while they are lap size, because they will grow and your lap will shrink. Play with their curls while you watch a movie together, for there will be a day that they no longer want you to. Hold their hands while their hands are still smaller than yours. Pay attention to the little changes, for you won’t remember the day your daughter’s eyes stopped being blue and started being green. Trust me on this. You won’t remember the day she grew into her chipmunk cheeks and started to look like a big girl.
If you are lucky enough to still have living parents that you are close to, take the time to listen to their stories. When my dad died, so many stories were lost, simply because I was too young to realize their value. I promised myself I would not make the same mistake with my mother, and we have forged a friendship that I never thought was possible. Respecting your elders is important, but listening to them is more so. They are the guardians and keepers of your history. They are the only people to remember your first steps, smiles, and lost teeth. They lived through a world that no longer even exists. Let them tell their stories, and honor their wisdom.
If you are lucky enough to have close loved ones and friends in your life, tell them how much they mean to you. Tell your partners what they mean to you, and why you are glad to have them. The only guarantee about tomorrow is that it is uncertain. The only promise we have is that we aren’t promised another day. It’s a cliché, but each day truly is a gift, and I think it’s time more people treated it as such. In slightly more than a decade, I have lost my grandmother, my father, my sister, a good friend and occasional lover, and a few distant friends and old classmates. I don’t get those people back. And what it has taught me is to not take any of this for granted. And, also, to hold tight to those I hold dear.
That roughly half-dozen people I’ve already lost have taught me that love is sacred, fragile, and impermanent. They have taught me to live fully in the moment. To paraphrase Lazarus Long, one of my very favorite fictional characters, we all have the same amount of time on this Earth. Whether we are long-life or short-life creatures, the only moment we have is now. Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is uncertain. They only time we all have is “now” (this idea is discussed at length in the book Time Enough for Love, which I highly recommend).
If you know me in person, this attitude makes me uncomfortably blunt sometimes. If you mean something to me, I aim to let you know as clearly and as often as possible.
Because I may never get another chance.
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