September 3, 2012
Having reached the ripe old age of 71 and soon to be 72, I decided to make a list of the many things I am grateful for.
First and foremost, I am grateful for my health. For the first sixty-three and one-half years of my life, I was pretty healthy and did not spend one day in a hospital (with the exception of when I was a child and had my tonsils removed). However, the year 2004 was different and rather than go into all the details here suffice it to say that within four months, I was in and out of the hospital more times than I was in those first sixty-three and one-half years. During those four months I experienced heart by-pass, gall bladder, and prostate cancer surgery with the latter really taking its toll on me for an entire year after the surgery. But, that part of my life is behind me and having taken stock of what could have happened, I am grateful for my success in handling all three very well and my present medical condition.
This particular thought process brings me to another lesson learned and that is “do not let the past ruin the present”. What is done – is done! Over, kaput, finished! Once a thing happens, it cannot be undone. We have to move on. I remember a story I heard when I was a young man that went something like this – I once was sad because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet. Which brings me to another lesson learned in all these years and that is, no matter how rough we think we may have it, there is someone out there who has it worse than we do.
Another lesson recently learned and that is not to compare your life with that of others. It is your journey, not theirs. I used to worry about what other people thought about how I lived, how much money I had, where I lived, what I did, and so forth and so on. But then recently, it struck me – hey this is my life and I only get one shot at it. Am I going to live it the way I think other people want me to live or am I going to live the way I want to? I chose the latter. I won’t get a second shot at coming back and doing it over. There is no “oops” sorry, let me do that over. We only go around once and we should make it count the first time.
Another lesson learned is that one of the many things that count in the end is that we have loved. I have been fortunate to share my life with someone I love and that loves me in return and does so unconditionally. One lesson I am very thankful for is having the opportunity of having loved.
Life situations are another lesson learned. Whether or not the situations we come across in our daily lives are good or bad – one factor that will always remain a constant is that there will always be change. This lesson sort of leads into another one that involves what we tend to look at as “disasters” when they happen. I am not talking about natural disasters such as tornados or earthquakes but the situations we call disasters in our lives. When such disruption occurs, I now tend to look at them in the following manner – will it even matter in say, five years. Chances are it won’t – so why sweat the small stuff?
Another lesson learned and I think of this each time I go to my closet and decide what to wear when getting ready to go out somewhere be it for lunch, meeting friends or just going to a movie – we are, in fact getting older. What does this mean? Wear the good clothes, burn the candles, use those satin sheets. Today is a special occasion. Why? Because we woke up and are still perpendicular, not to mention on the right side of the grass! Everything can change at a moment’s notice. We shouldn’t just be auditing life, we should be living it not merely existing in it. Remember the alternative to growing old is to die young. Every day, no matter how we feel, we should get out of bed, dress for the occasion, and show everyone we are ready for whatever life throws our way.
Bottom line is this – Life may not be wrapped up in fancy paper and tied with colorful ribbons and bows, but it should still be looked upon as a gift. And to end this with the words of our former line dance instructor’s philosophy on life – “Life is too short not to dance!”