Yesterday I attended the funeral of the mother of someone very close to me. In the mist of the deceased’s loved ones mourning the loss, I inevitably reflect on our mortality and if there is a silver lining to someone’s passing, its the reminder to those left behind of how brief and precious life is.
In 2004, at the age of 58, my mother died of cancer. I wrote about how this event changed me previously (link below) so I won’t retread that theme, but I do want to highlight how keeping an acute awareness of how little time we have on this world is key to having a full, fulfilling and authentic life. A month before she died, I took her and my father to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She had previously never been out of the country. She knew her prognosis: her lifespan was no longer measured in years but in months and days. But the magical part was: I had never seen her so happy. Wheelchair bound, she reveled in bouncing along the bumpy, cobblestone streets, taking in the bright colors of the painted buildings, fabrics and glassware. She loved bartering with the merchants and ordering exotic and beautiful food she knew she would not be able to eat. Sitting on the beach, she watched the ocean for hours.
On the day before we left I pushed her wheelchair out to the sand and we sat and watched the sun set over the ocean. We were quiet for a long stretch of time before she spoke.
“It’s so great to be here, isn’t it?” she said.
“Yes,” I said. “I love Mexico.”
“Yes, but I mean it’s so great to be here.”
And then I knew what she meant. It was great to be here, alive, now, in the present moment. And I could feel the bittersweet realization she had come to, and I witnessed the sense of peace, not regret, that it gave her.
My mother was able to experience the preciousness and beauty of the world in a heightened way because she knew her time was limited.
But here is the truth that we all run from: Time is limited for all of us. But when we don’t have death breathing down our necks, when we can look to the “indefinite” future that we all believe is our destiny, what do we do?
We procrastinate. We delay. We put off our big dreams and follow the path of least resistance, letting ourselves become consumed with the minutia of the day-to-day trials. This is choosing to live in a false reality. We don’t have the time to put off what we truly want to have in our lives. There is no perfect time to do anything, there is only now.
Start the business of your dreams.
Write your book.
Travel to that exotic land.
Learn that new language.
Ask that girl out.
Help that person in need.
Tell everyone you love that you love them, and I hope you find love for everyone.
Do it today.
Read “Six Life Changing Lessons I learned from My Mother’s Terminal Cancer” here:
My book, The Abundant Bohemian: How To Live an Unconventional Life Without Starving In the Process is out now. You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Bohemian-Joseph-Downing/dp/1633370135/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419609806&sr=1-1&keywords=the+abundant+bohemian
If you like the blog, the best way you can support it is by sharing it with others. Abundantbohemian.com. And thanks.