Herald Journal Columns
June 19, 2006, Herald Journal

You only live once

By LIZ HELLMANN
You only live once.

Thank you, Captain Obvious – just remember, you are reading the viewpoints page, not a news page.

This is an interesting phrase that has an uncanny ability to assure people what they are doing is acceptable, no matter how idiotic or irresponsible it actually is.

For example, do people who run with the bulls in Pamplona live by that phrase?

What runs through their minds when they are about to be gored by an angry, 1,200-pound bull?

“It’s OK, I only live once.”

It’s like a mask to cover up stupidity.

An inept, skinny teenager walks into a biker bar and dances with the girlfriend of a man named Butch.

As people stare incredulously at the pimpled-face buffoon, he states, “You only live once.”

Suddenly, people laugh, finding the boy adventuresome, no matter how short-lived his adventure might be.

A closer look, or just a plain look, at this phrase reveals that it’s more an obvious statement than a good excuse – of course, we only live once.

We breathe each day, too. But, amazingly, we haven’t turned that into a reason to buy a motorcycle when we’re 50, parachute out of plane, or wear International red to a John Deere convention.

Maybe someday.

For me, this phrase has been cropping up as an excuse for the latest turn in my life.

Not necessarily by me, but by others with whom I have shared my decision.

The decision is that this will be my last column for the Herald Journal.

Not because I have grown tired of having a nice space every week to complain – why would I get rid of that?

It’s better than having a shrink, ahem, mental health physician. If I were to complain to them, they’d want to talk back.

No, this will be my last column because I will no longer be employed at this fine newspaper.

Before you break out the party hats, let me explain why this spot on the viewpoints page will soon be freed for someone who knows what they are talking about (I warned all of you in my first column, I don’t know a whole lot).

As some of you may be aware of, life as I know it will end in a week.

I’m getting married.

This is still not a reason to quit, I know. But, my new husband (not that I had an old one before) and I will be moving.

Although I enjoyed serving your great communities, the commute from my new home would be a little much.

I’d literally be scaling mountains for you, and I don’t know if we’ve reached that level in our relationship yet.

We are moving to Colorado, where my fiancé has accepted a teaching position.

Most of the friends and family who we have talked to about it, have been very supportive. A few have expressed jealousy, and some have threatened jokingly (I hope) to not let us leave.

But, because it is so far away (but it’s not like we are flying straight to the moon – we aren’t those honeymooners), people seem to justify the move with that “you only live once,” line.

While it is true, I can’t help but wonder why it is viewed much differently than if we had decided to stay in the area.

After all, both are a conscious choice – just one of them doesn’t involve much change.

No one braces themselves and wishes good luck to the couple that buys a house a block from their parents’ house, which I would argue takes far more guts.

But change is inevitable to a certain extent, so why not be the one making it?

Having grown up in the same house for 22 years, save four years at college, I think I have a pretty good handle on how things go around here.

Not that I didn’t enjoy it, or that there won’t be new things to come. But it would be interesting to get a fresh perspective.

I’m counting on the mountain view from our apartment’s patio in Colorado to help ease any apprehension or homesickness.

Being an outdoors-type, I can’t wait to climb Pike’s Peak and visit Rocky Mountain National Park.

Skiing might be a different story. The only skiing I’ve ever done was in a phy ed class in college, where my main mode of stopping was to fall down.

I suspect the hill I learned on wouldn’t even qualify as a speed bump in the Rockies.

But you live and learn, and possibly break a few bones along the way.

So, why Colorado? It’s a beautiful place, with job opportunities for me and my spouse, and plenty of recreational fun.

While there will always be something familiar and comforting about home, we are looking forward to the change of pace.

Too often, I feel, we put ourselves on autopilot and forget that the world is full of possibilities.

Not everyone can just get up and move to another state. But I would hate to reach the end of my life feeling like I didn’t take advantage of the time that I had by stepping out of the box once in awhile.

So, I thank all of you for putting up with my whining, satirical antics.

I hope you have found something entertaining, thought-provoking, or at least palatable in my ramblings.

Who knows? Maybe you even benefited from a story I wrote.

But mostly, I benefited from the opportunity to serve Herald Journal Publishing and all of its readers.

Maybe you will see me again someday as a famous author, world-reknowned journalist, or on the evening news as the woman from Minnesota being carried away on a stretcher after falling down the Rocky Mountains, shouting, “You only live once!”


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