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Living life to the fullest
June 21, 2010
by Ivan Raconteur

There are times in life when we are reminded of how important it is to savor each precious minute, and to really live, rather than just going through the motions.

Sometimes, this message comes to us in dramatic and unexpected ways.

It becomes especially clear when we are touched by the death of a young person (young can be a relative term), for whom just hours before, the future seemed to stretch far out into the distance. When that future is abruptly cut off with little or no warning, it makes us think.

Perhaps the best lesson we can take from these experiences is not that we should fear death, but that we should embrace life.

Too often, we get hung up on small details, and let minor irritations affect our outlook. This can happen in the office, in our interactions with family and friends, and in the world around us. It is human nature.

Perhaps we need these dramatic experiences from time-to-time to help us put things into perspective. Maybe we need an occasional kick in the seat of our trousers to remind us not to worry about the small stuff, because doing so will distract us from those things that are important.

Death is the best argument for appreciating life.

We can’t control how much time we will have on this earth, but we can control what we do with the time we have.

Throughout our lives, we are faced with choices. We can choose to focus on the negative side of things, or we can choose to look for ways to make the most of the opportunities we are given.

Life is fragile, and it is uncertain, but it can also be beautiful. It can be a rich tapestry of amazing sights and sounds, and it can be filled with incredible experiences that have deep meaning for us.

Another lesson we can take from an unexpected death is the importance of our friends and family. It is people, not objects, that are vital to our quality of life.

We should take every opportunity to let those around us know what they mean to us.

Of course, we assume they already know, because it is so obvious to us. Unfortunately, we get caught up in the day-to-day, and don’t always remember to tell those around us just how special they are, or how much we care about them.

We should tell them, and we should do it today, because we may not have the chance to tell them tomorrow. The time to honor people is while they are with us, not after they are gone.

Tragedy and misfortune can bring out the best in people. We learn the most about the character of those around us, not when the sun is shining and things are going smoothly, but during the darkest hours, when storm clouds gather and the road is rocky.

I am amazed and inspired by the way people come together in support of others during difficult times. The love and compassion that people show (including those from whom we may not expect it) is enough to give one renewed hope.

Often, it is not the grand gesture, but the small show of support or the quiet act of kindness that makes the difference. We may not be able to change what happens, but there are ways we can make the journey easier for our brothers and sisters, and maybe that is what it is all about.

Each of us will experience challenges, but there is comfort in the fact that we are all in this together. Perhaps by helping others to get through the tough times, we are really helping ourselves.

The best thing we can do to honor the memory of those who are no longer with us is to go out and wring all the joy we can from every day. Time is a non-renewable resource, and it is up to us to make the best use of it that we can.

We should remember our departed comrades as they were in life. After all, dead people are all pretty much the same, and frankly, they aren’t much fun.

I suspect all of us, after we’ve gone, would like our friends to remember us the way we were when we were going well and feeling sassy, not as we were in the final hours before we tipped over the precipice.

If we attack life with passion and enthusiasm, and live in the moment, rather than remaining stuck in the past or waiting for a mythical “someday,” we can be sure that when our time comes, and the grim reaper beckons, we will be able to say with confidence that we have lived life to the fullest, leaving behind no excuses and no regrets.