I believe in living knowing that this day may be your last. My belief has been stated in so many ways and repeated so often that to many, it no longer holds its validity. When we are constantly encountering maxims to “seize the day,” and “live as if there were no tomorrow,” we often forget that these mottos apply to us. As a twelve year old, I certainly never believed it applied to me. I had moved with my mom and brother; my sister had elected to stay with my dad in Arizona rather than attempt to survive in rural North Carolina. I fostered a great deal of respect for my older sister. To me, she was everything I thought I would never become. Sarah was beautiful and confident; she had this almost magnetic pull that seemed to intrigue people. While I wanted nothing more than to be her, our relationship was strained to the point that we were barely speaking when my family moved. Though Sarah made every man amorous and every woman jealous, living with her had never been easy. In public, her self-confidence and inflated ego were charming. At home, she required the complete attention of everyone around her. Her need for attention was exhausting; her emotional instability was consuming. Despite the difficulties living with her posed, once she moved, I began to regret the erosion of our relationship. She was my sister, though she may be insufferable. While our growing rift dismayed me, I believed that I had time to ameliorate it. This thought quickly eroded when my mother received a call late one December night. It was about Sarah. She passed out in the shower that afternoon; it turned out that what had been misdiagnosed as the flu, was actually several bleeding ulcers. Her condition had gone undiagnosed for so long, that she was now in the Intensive Care Unit; her doctors doubted that she would make it through the night.
A week later, her condition stabilized. I knew again that I still had time to repair the damage to our relationship. At the time, I was certain that my sister’s illness was more than just a momentary scare. It would remind me that at any age, life could easily be taken away. I now know that life is not about waiting. Waiting for the right moment, not just to repair a relationship, but for anything, whether its writing a book you’ve always dreamed of, learning a sport you’ve never been bold enough to try, or even approaching the person you’ve had your eyes on, is foolish. The right moment is nothing more than an illusion; because, in the present, every moment is the right moment. To live, we must take risks and refuse to believe in waiting for another day. I believe that we must act today, in case tomorrow never comes.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.