There are probably no other two words in the English language with more contrasting reactions when we hear them being spoken together in one phrase. Yet, they are intimately joined to remind us of the ultimate purpose of our journey. If you wake up tomorrow morning, and no, it is not a forgone conclusion, then you can be everything and anything you wish to be. Too many of us know how the illness of a close friend or spouse can radically change our way of automatically living our lives within the confines of our thoughts.
If you want to be reminded of the gift of health, walk into a hospital and visit with those who now live within its four walls. Yet, some of the most profound and life changing moments can be experienced there. I do not mean just the obvious beginning, as birth, and then, the transition in our final moments. I am referring to all the moments in between. One is extremely present in the first few years of life and again near the end, when time has become irrelevant. The people who work and volunteer at those two extremes, the entry and exit points, are witnesses to some of the most intense moments of the human journey.
The in-between years are the confusing ones, when we race against the clock with a list of activities and obligations. Could it be this simple? A breath inhaled into life and then, hopefully much later, one final exhale out of this physical experience. As we approach the end of October, the last day is the celebration of our ancestors. It is not just an opportunity for a costume party, although those can be fun. Pause, take a moment and reflect on what it means to be alive. Why do we have such difficulty with writing our wills and buying life insurance? What are we so afraid of that even saying the word or talking about death or the passing of a loved one makes many people uncomfortable in a social setting.
Maybe it is time that we, as a modern society, place equal value on the teachings of both. I forget who was quoted as saying that we should not take life too seriously, since none of us make it out alive. There is a profound truth in this statement. So, if you wake up tomorrow morning, look around your life with fresh eyes. The present moment is here as a gift. When your thoughts try to race ahead to begin the spin of your to do list, stop and take a deep breath. Ask yourself the following question. If today was my last day, what would I really want to do? Your life may literally be transformed by your answer.Catherine Hedrich