“If you had only five years to live, what would you change?
It was a simple box of conversation cards at the coffee shop that once again shifted my attitude. From the 20-year-olds at the table the answers came fairly easily. For the 50-somethings the answers were more serious in keeping with their ages and stations. Wide-eyed, my husband and I looked each other, realizing that five years would put us in close proximity to (or past) the average age of life-expectancy in our country.*
Thoughtfully I ask myself this question over and over since that morning. I have been living my life as if my future would stretch to infinity. Now I examine each day and wonder – What is important? What is meaningful? Am I living with purpose?
Those of you who know me well are not surprised by this. Although I aspire to live in the moment, I am not known for taking life as it comes. Instead, I constantly evaluate, adjust, question, strive for…???
Purpose is important to me. Discerning what is meaningful at any given time is more difficult. And so that question of what I would change places new importance to every move I make. Does every second of every minute matter? Would I really want to be doing this if it were the last thing I ever did? This way lies insanity.
And so I have come up with what I will change.
I will try to breathe deeply and claim each moment of enjoyment. I will stop ranking my activities and trying to determine priority.
Doing Sudoku puzzles on my IPad is not a travesty in times of rest. Watching a British detective show with my huband (using closed captions so that I can understand the dialogue) is as important as watching Super Soul Sunday alone. I’ll love my bath whether reading a Maeve Binchy story or trying to truly comprehend the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.
I’ll remember that picking up after myself in my house contributes to living in beauty as much as puttering around in my garden. Visiting with a friend is as meaningful as visiting a hospice patient. Taking a walk early in the morning is as necessary for my health as going to exercise class. Time to myself is as valuable as watching my grandson play ball and enjoying the time with his family in the grandstands. If going to the grower’s market with my husband three days a week feeds my soul…it isn’t called wasting time even if we don’t need salad greens and we grow our own tomatoes.
Of course, the leopard doesn’t really change her spots.
I will still have my mental and written lists of things to do: clearing out the stacks instead of leaving them for my children to handle, completing the blog of my father’s writings which he didn’t get edited during his long lifetime, and finishing tasks that I have set out for myself. And since there are places I want to go and things I would like to experience… I will get my calendar in order. Oh, and I can’t give up trying to do my part by changing my little corner of the world as much as possible.
But I will try to relax into the life that is before me, into all that I have, all that I have done, and all that I am; into the love that I feel for friends and family and the love they give me.
That relaxation will be the change.
*which, btw, is not high on the charts compared to other countries in the world; ranked 37th below Slovenia and Costa Rica.
In India the overall expectancy is 70, with male and female at 67 and 73 respectively. On that score, I have already passed the average and so must count every day as a bonus! I do but I am more laid back. I let life move as it will me.
It’s a good constant reminder to treasure our lives, isn’t it?
That is quite a question and I think the answer you came to is the only one that matters!
Isn’t it interesting? A thought-provoker, for sure!
A question we need to be reminded of. Thanks for sharing your insights.
Interesting that it is so easily set aside. Isn’t it?
Mother, it took a while to locate this gem but locate it I did. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. Please go right to the end for the real punch line. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PypsMk_0QxY
Yes, Ramana, that was very funny. You didn’t fit the statistics, tho, did you? Perhaps it is harder to be the one left than the one leaving. We can’t really know. I guess time will tell what my statistics prove. Thanks for the laugh.
When this had come my way through a friend, I had responded in an email that I am a survivor and I did not fall three floors on top of my wife and kill her.
No, I’d say that from what I have heard, you practically fell on your sword to care for her, if not save her.