We are always getting ready to live but never living. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’re all familiar with the concept of “seize the day”, or as they said in Latin, “carpe diem”. But what does that really mean in the scheme of your average day?
Every one of us experiences days when we feel blue, or that things are not going as we would wish. At these times, we may say to ourselves “I’ll pick up such and such when I’m feeling better,” or like me today, “I’m going to put off writing my blog until I’m in a better mood.” (Yes, coaches have gloomy days too!) The idea boils down to “I’m going to put my life on hold until ___________” (fill in the blank).
The trouble with waiting is that Saturn (the Roman god of time) is not going to grant us a reprieve until such time that we suddenly have time. For what is important in our lives, including ourselves, we must make time. Not “some day” in the future, but every day that we take a breath.
Waiting can get to be a nasty habit. The “I’ll take care of X when the circumstances are ideal” concept is a trap. Know why? Because 9.9 times out of 10, the “ideal circumstance” doesn’t exist. (For thoughts on seeking perfection, see my article “What are you waiting for? ”) What winds up happening is that we live in a perpetual state of “mañana”, and as they say, “mañana” never comes.
If you are living only for the “end game” everything along the path is in the way.
What does eventually show up in the end is death…
(Whoa! Chris! Getting kinda grim, ain’tcha? Aren’t you supposed to be a Life Coach? Exactly.)
Recently I was at a networking event where a life insurance guy gave as his “elevator speech” punch line, “you need life insurance because you’re all gonna die.” The whole room burst out laughing a bit too spasmodically. We hate to think about death. We have a deep aversion to the very word, living in denial of a part of our life as present as birth & taxes. What happens when we deny death? In our constant dance around the whole concept, we deprive ourselves of living. Ironic, eh?
We spend our entire lives running frantically from the reaper right into his very arms, or spend our lives in a holding pattern, simply waiting until he comes to take us away. In either case, we miss out on so much along the way. Why?
We have forgotten how to live.
I want so much more for all of us!
Ask anyone who has had a close encounter with his or her own demise. Life is not only about what you do, it’s about who you are and whether you are present to every day you get to breathe on this earth.
Understand me here; “doing” is the action of our lives! We must do “stuff” to thrive. It’s great to set your sights on specific achievements, be they financial, in the arts, in the helping professions (the sky’s the limit, really)! Go for it! But remember to live in the present while you’re doing it. <
Those things that frighten us the most are what prevent us from being present. We will do anything to avoid looking at those things. We will look only down the road, or at the bottom line, or live in the constant doing, wanting to be anywhere but here, now. But what we resist, persists! We’ve got to turn and look squarely at those fears, because it is what we refuse to look at that stands in the way to our being present in, and living, our lives. I’ve got a saying for this concept: the monster in the closet is much more frightening with the lights off.
It’s all about balance people… Go after, with full gusto, your material goals, your creative passions, your volunteer work, but remember to enjoy the journey on the way.
- Hold your face up to the sun on the street corner.
- Dare to look “foolish” or even “goofy”!
- Toss the ball back to the kid on the ball field.
- Smile at the baby on the Subway.
- Take a walk in the park on your lunch hour on a beautiful afternoon.
- Jump the hopscotch board on the sidewalk in front of your building.
- Enjoy what you already have to the full extent that you have it.
- Surrender to spontaneous smiling.
- Do what fills your heart with joy.
- Lighten up!
- And take good care of yourselves and your loved ones…
What does all this have to do with what I started writing in the first place?
How long are you going to put off your life? How long do you have? Do you know? Mercifully, few of us know the answer to that question, and because of that, and our denial of death, we’ve chosen to take our lives for granted.
Many of us have chosen to take for granted that we will wake up every morning. Now, I’m all for optimism. Many a friend has called me naively optimistic… but come on. Are you one of those who have decided to put off living until… some other time? What other time? Which one? Name it. Until you have enough money? Is there ever enough money? And is living a full life mutually exclusive from working your career? Whose rule is that? This sounds like something a little kid might say: “I’m going to hold my breath until I get that ice cream”… What’s the difference? “I am going to put off enjoying my life, until I make enough money.” Quit stamping your feet and get out there and dance!
If you discovered tomorrow your own expiration date, could you cram all of that unlived living into your remaining time? Why wait?
We all have expiration dates. As the insurance guy said, we’re “all gonna die”. Rather than have that be a fear that looms in your future, accept it! It’s gonna happen! Guaranteed! So you know what? LIVE YOUR LIFE! Can I say that more loudly? LIVE YOUR LIFE… NOW!
The great days are delicious, AND the sucky days are still days that you get to choose because you are here to.
What are you putting off until… someday? When will “some day” be today? Are we there yet?
Will you allow a fear of death become a failure to live?
As always, it’s your choice.
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