10 Things to do before our Whole Lives Slip Away.

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“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. But, you can decide how you’re going to live now.” ~ Joan Baez

~

There will come a time when we will run out of time.

Just ask my elderly neighbor Jackie what she would rather be doing instead of sitting in her wheelchair all day, swiping and tapping away on her iPad.

She would rather be dancing.

Ask my great uncle what he would rather be doing instead of taking his medication three times a day, and “laying low” because he can’t stand the humidity.

He would much rather be camping.

Time is ticking by. It’s fleeting. We blink, and the day—another whole day—is gone.

I’ll be 50 this year. Lamenting the passage of time comes with the territory of turning 50. I’m approaching what everyone likes to call the “halfway” point, which is a bit of a cruel joke because 50 isn’t halfway, it’s much more than that. Who the hell lives to be 100?

Approaching this milestone is emotionally difficult for me. Honestly, just calling it a “milestone” makes me feel uncomfortable. Damn it, I’m too young for milestone birthdays. As I await the “perfect time” to do what I want and need to do with the one life I’ve been given, the only conclusion I draw is that time sure isn’t waiting for me.

What are some things we can do before we run out of time?

Apologize. Is there someone who needs a sincere apology? Probably. Haven’t we waited long enough to swallow our pride? “Sorry” may or may not act as the bridge we seek, but it’s something we can do to expel harbored negative energy. It’s an action we can take now, before it’s too late and we don’t get the chance.

Forgive. What holds hands with an apology, of course, is forgiveness. Who do we need to forgive? Forgiving a wrong is something we can do with or without an apology from others. Letting go of angry grudges is also an action we can take now, because grudges deplete our strength and spirit.

Travel. This one is an easy cliché, but many of us would travel more (if only we “had the time”). Exploration and adventure is nectar for our senses. It opens our hearts and minds to other cultures and the great big (and little) world we inhabit. Planning a memorable trip is something we should take off the back burner. We need to stop waiting for a retirement that isn’t guaranteed.

Finish. Writing a book? Reading one? Either way, let’s finally finish it. Remodeling a bathroom? Going back to school to get a degree? Put those damn loose ends to bed already. Our “to-do” list keeps us stuck. When finishing becomes our priority, it snowballs into accomplishment.

Volunteer. We want to get involved. We want to lend ourselves to social issues, such as literacy or the soup kitchen, for example, but we’re “waiting until we have the time.” Why? Get involved today. Why wait any longer to be of service? When we volunteer, we quickly find out that we get more than we give.

Overcome. Face a fear and get help. Addictions keep us from living happy lives. There is no time like the present to take that first step toward healing. When we treat today like the first day of the rest of our lives, we understand that it’s our good fortune to simply be alive, and it’s easier to stop taking our life and our health for granted.

Thank. Demonstrating gratitude toward those who help us navigate our lives is important. Actively thanking those who make a difference is an expression of love. Adding the words “thank you” to most interactions creates a symbiotic relationship with humanity.

Learn. We may feel like old dogs, but we’re never too old to learn new tricks! It’s time to move toward that thing that fascinates us, that hobby or experience we think we could explore if only we had the time. Playing the piano? Learning another language? Why are we waiting to tickle our fancies? Tickle them now to create new beginnings.

Party. With family, friends, and loved ones. Just get together. Plan social gatherings and visit everyone. What’s better than food, drink, and good times? It may be unpleasant to consider this, but every visit, every party, could be our last one, so why wait?

Expel. Let go of all that does not serve our spirit. People. Junk. Ideas. Hang-ups. Now is the time to purge anything and everything that does not make us smile, or make an important contribution to our happiness. Spend no energy on what doesn’t benefit our well-being.

Yes, there will come a time when we will run out of time. It’s a simple concept. “Running out of time” still feels far away to me, but I know I’m inching closer each day, and I’ve been lucky so far. Anything can happen, right? It’s high time I used every last drop of the time I’m given.

That thing I want to do, that thing I believe I can do if I just stopped procrastinating? It’s time to go for it. These are the years I will check things off my bucket list. I will strive to savor my time, instead watching it slip away along with my regrets.

The stuff on the back burner has been simmering too long. It’s time to pull it off the stove before it sticks to the pot.

~

author: Kimberly Valzania

Image: Huyen Nguyen/Unsplash

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Kimberly Valzania

Kimberly Valzania practices mindful gratefulness. She is creatively driven to write about and share her personal experience and opinion on weight loss, fitness, life changes, adventures in parenting, day-to-day triumphs (and failures) and the truth-seeking struggle of simply being human. As words tumble out, they are sorted into cohesive piles and delivered via poetry and short essays. She knows that life is indeed a journey, and that precious moments appear like magic when you surrender, hold hands and fearlessly fling yourself into the great wide open.

Read more at her website.

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Brenda Ferguson-Free Sep 13, 2018 9:12am

I think no matter what you did or did not do when you were younger, you would still rather be doing anything than sitting in a wheelchair. That's age.

Kathleen Eubanks Sep 11, 2018 11:39am

Solid reminders and since we never stop growing there is always space to add any number of of the things you'd mentioned. Thank you for writing the article! The only thing I'd add is make sure to do up a will with a lawyer asap.

Crystal Flaman Sep 3, 2018 1:16am

I loved your article Kim! Every word! Thank you.

Kim Wheeler Valzania Sep 2, 2018 12:14pm

Hi there. Not sure I agree. I believe we can do most of the things we tend to put off, especially the ones that don't cost any money (forgiveness, apologies, letting go), despite all the other stuff going on in our lives, including the full time jobs we may or may not love, etc.

Denise Belleville Sep 1, 2018 3:23pm

I need to read this daily.

Ellie Renee Sep 1, 2018 3:05pm

Great points here! I often feel like I'm letting life slip away in little moments and regrets, areas where I am letting small slights and negativity sap my energetic light. It used to feel overwhelming to think about all the things I wanted to do "before I die", and then I would stop thinking about it or avoid it because it just exhausted me or made me feel sad. This is a good list because it's simple, and one doesn't have to take it over the top to make it useful, taking small actions here and there. Thank you for sharing <3

Monika Evans Aug 31, 2018 7:13pm

A lot of this is spot on... however, a lot of the things "to do" now and not wait cost money and time. Unless you are independently wealthy you may have to work... the older you get, the more you can consider yourself lucky to even have a job...Remodeling a bathroom? Going back to school to get a degree, travel? Sounds a lot to me like "do what you love" which always makes me wonder how to find the garbage people to remove our trash if everyone followed that idea. Maybe there are people who would love picking up garbage and pursue their dream that way?

Renée Powers Aug 31, 2018 2:45pm

Thank you for writing! Sweet reminders with a loving reality check for this "almost 60" year old.🧡

Kim Wheeler Valzania Aug 31, 2018 11:07am

Thank you for reading. 😊