Before the lights go out … consider this.
At 30,000 feet the sun appeared like fire burning a gaping hole in the skyline. It was too intense to glare at from my seat on the plane. Astronomers estimate that if we traveled from the earth to the sun, without stopping, at a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour it would take 17 years! Given the distance and the sun’s estimated core temperature of more than 27 million degrees, we couldn’t survive the journey.
Within minutes the spectacular fire in the sky was out of sight. It got me thinking about the ways we are each learning to survive, and (hopefully) thrive, through the gaping holes bound to occur in this journey called life.
How much time must we waste before the lights go out?
On time and energy misplaced? On worrying instead of praying? Time wasted complaining, gossiping, procrastinating, hanging out with negative people, solving the same problems again, and more (see 29 ways you’re wasting time today by Craig Jarrow).
We spent our time on Mother’s Day weekend visiting with our daughter at her new place – in the heart of the city – exploring new and favorite places, eating amazing food without a television in sight, and taking time to talk and listen in turn. We exchanged notes from Treasured Passages, talked about dreams and goals, and even contemplated a final sunset on life itself.
“If you only had one month to live how would you spend it?”
Our answers varied from skydiving with her dog Ella and eating LOTS of shrimp tostadas to giving away everything owned and (finally) letting go of the fear of failure. I am not sure how I’d decide what came first or last on my bucket list.
However, I am sure of several things. I am sure I will die. I am sure that I was born for a reason, though perhaps still don’t know it fully. I am sure I will see heaven.
I am sure some people will have loved me and some not so much. As Margaret Thatcher said, “if you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything, at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” I am sure I am learning more about where to hang on and where to let go. I am sure I will leave a legacy of compassion – within my own family and sporadically within others, some of whom I’ve met and others I will never know.
Facing unfathomable losses; walking with those suffering; researching and writing to understand, and then helping others understand too; advocating for those whose voice has been squelched by circumstance or disease — all of this has immensely affected my sense and purpose for being here on earth.
I complain much less; I rarely procrastinate; I capture my ideas before they float out of mind; I move on when it becomes obvious I can’t solve the problem (and I’ve given it my best); I limit time spent with negative people; I spend less time e-talking and more time conversing in-person; I spend more time doing what brings myself and others joy.
I take time to notice the sun seemingly burning a gaping hole in the skyline.
Alzheimer’s has engulfed my mother in a slow-goodbye of minus this, minus that, and minus some more. There aren’t enough words to sufficiently describe what it is like to watch the lights go out ever so slowly. One of the blessings in disguise (there are many if you really look) is undoubtedly knowing the small things are really big things, not just someday but right now! You are living proof of what matters now.
If you only had a month to live how would you spend it?
Why wait? The sun is setting.