John Pavlovitz recently wrote movingly about valuing what is and is not important in an essay entitled "On The Day I Die". I recommend it.
Because it's so true.
His essay reminded me in very stark terms of the day I came home from the airport after John had passed away.
John had died while we were vacationing in NY, visiting family.
After going through the ordeal of paramedics and coroner and packing up our things from the hotel room and making phone calls and changing flights and then traveling 5 hours by air all alone, I finally arrived home in Arizona.
As we always had done, I entered our house through the garage. The garage had been John's hobby place. He loved working on old cars and old car parts and had set up a little workshop in our garage. We always laughed about that because it took up all the space. Neither of our cars were ever parked in it. The garage was John's Place.
He had set up saw horses and plywood and made himself a large workspace for tools and air compressor and liquids and sponges, etc.
Now, as I walked through the garage on the way to the door to enter our home, I saw all the things as he had left there before we had embarked on our trip.
The car parts.
The half-filled water glass.
Everything was there as if he were going to come back at any moment and pick up where he had left off.
Except he wasn't.
He never would again.
Seeing those things stopped me in my tracks and impressed upon me, probably more than anything else in the last 18 hours had done - John was gone.
Our life together on this earth was over.
And just as John Pavlovitz has said, there is a lesson to be learned.
We don't know when our life will end.
Oh, we can surmise sometimes.
Maybe we have a terminal illness or a chronic condition and we assume that will take us.
But will it?
Who can say that the terminally ill patient just given 6 months to live won't be hit by a car and killed the day she walks out of her doctor's office after hearing that news?
I'm not trying to be morbid. Just practical.
We really don't know when and how our life will end.
So, we must use that knowledge to make the most of every day.
I know my John did.
He inspires me. I am trying to live by his example.
It's not easy. I tend to worry - a lot and often about stupid things. But that worry robs me of so much. It robs me of enjoying what is in front of me.
Ekhart Tolle in his powerful book The Power of Now speaks about this. His message is simple but powerful - living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment.
RIGHT NOW all is well. Right now, I have all I need. I have food and shelter. My bills are paid. My animals are healthy and safe with me. My health is good. I am content and cared for. Right now, all is well.
Maybe this is too Scarlett O'Hara-ish but right now, I need to practice this. I know I have less days in front of me than behind me.
They deserve my attention.
Some day, others will have to pack up the things that I leave behind.
I pray I used my time well.