This past week has been a difficult one. The heat rising in Gaza between Hamas and Israel can only hurt prospects for there ever to be a resolution. Georgia’s heartless law which takes away a woman’s choice even before she knows she is pregnant is heading to the governor to be signed into law. Both of these have commanded my attention. The first I wrote about last week and the second prompted me to write to local representatives to ask them not to pass this backwards law.
And then yesterday, I was hit with the news that one of my closest friends from when I lived in Israel is now brain dead. I don’t know if I should go into details out of respect for her family. I thought about it, but it’s not my story to tell.
What I do know is that life is very precious. That good health is something never to be taken for granted. “Time and health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted,” author and motivational speaker Denis Waitley has said. And this simple truth has begun ringing in my ears more and more each day.
There are things we have absolutely no control over. Like the weather, bad drivers, genetic diseases and “zebra” conditions or angry people with guns and no disregard for life. And then there are things which we cannot prevent, but can try to minimize our own exposure to. Don’t build your house on a cliff. Don’t text and drive. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep. And while we should not allow our lives to be dictated by fear, we do need to behave with both caution in light of our surroundings and in order to protect those around us from our own thoughtless behavior.
The randomness of not knowing what each day might bring and that each day could be our last ought to give us the impetus we each need to lead better lives. And yet it doesn’t. Most people prefer the convenience of whatever it is that they want now to alternatives. Chocolate above broccoli is a simple example. Holding on to resentment instead of forgiving is more complex.
Most people also don’t believe that bad things will happen to them. When awful catastrophes happen in other places, be it countries or counties, movie theaters or schools, we file it away as not having happened to us. It may move us to take action, like to donate money, sign a petition, or become an organ donor, as Sarah Tuttle-Singer writes so eloquently about, but it may not change our daily behavior or mindset.
We live our lives based on what we’ve experienced in the past, and if we’ve never had a life-changing disease or accident, we don’t think about how it may happen to us. (And even if we have, how long until we slip back into old behaviors, thinking lightening doesn’t hit twice?) Perhaps one could argue that if the odds are that someone will happen, each day that goes by and it hasn’t, means the odds are increasing that it will, if only because the span left to our lives is shortening. Perhaps not.
As age creeps up on us, I also begin to feel the wheels of time moving on. Reading glasses, hearing aids, menopause. Children who are adults, and parents who may yet become great grandparents. I am so very fortunate to have both my parents, but am of a generation where more and more of my peers are losing theirs.
It sounds trite, but truly, appreciate each day. Make it count. Remind yourself that every day is a gift, every person you meet someone whose life you can make brighter, and that the choices you make are the ones that you will have to live with and may be remembered by. Leave a legacy of goodness.
Life is precious.