This I Believe

Nancy - Fayetteville, Arkansas
Entered on December 6, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: carpe diem

I believe life is too short. I know this is a cliché that’s on everything from refrigerator magnets to Hallmark made-for-TV movies but it’s true, nonetheless. It came home to me again very recently.

A couple weeks ago there was a message on my desk that someone had called to request I remove a woman from my business mailing list; she had been killed in a car accident on November 7th. I’m sure my holiday postcard had just arrived and this was one of the more manageable tasks her survivors had to deal with. It made me feel sad and I wondered whether they were being considerate or were pissed off to receive this promotional item. When I deleted her name I looked at the “Last Activity Date”. She had been in the store on the afternoon of November 7th and had purchased 2 pairs of earrings.

I felt a bit sick when I saw that. I wondered if it happened on her way home. Did she have “Enigma” boxes in her car when they found her? I knew it was a weird coincidence that I had no part in and could not have prevented. Still, it left me feeling dull and deflated.

The following week I got the news that a woman in my book club discovered she had breast cancer. It was caught early, treatment would begin immediately and her prognosis is good. Still, she is the third person in this group of twelve to face this frightening disease. Who’s next? It’s a horrible thought.

Is the answer to sell everything and try to fulfill every fantasy adventure? Is it easier to take the dark view and just end it all? Both of these are obvious extremes. For most of us, life is simply whatever we happen to be doing at the moment with the people we have chosen (in the best of circumstances) or with whomever we are stuck with (which is sometimes the case). Maybe we’re living the life we dreamed of or maybe we wonder how the heck we ended up where we are. The lyrics to a song from the musical “Zorba” have stuck in my mind for years: “Life is what you do while you’re waiting to die.”

Every day of our lives we make choices. Most of them are minor: What shall I wear today? What will I make for dinner? Shall I watch TV or take a walk?

Sometimes the choices are difficult or heartbreaking or full of tension and anxiety. Then there are events that we do not choose but that change our lives in an instant; things like car accidents.

So pull out all the clichés! Eat dessert first if sweets are your thing. Play tag with the kids and screw the laundry. Eat healthy but enjoy what you eat. Life is too short for bad wine, bad coffee or bad vibes. Life is what happens while we’re making other plans. Today is all we’ve got.