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I’ve spent a good portion of my life putting things away.
Back into drawers. Upstairs. Down in the basement. Into the attic. Into boxes I may or may not open in five years.
I’ve spent time moving rocks. Figuratively, such as shifting priorities, homes, jobs, convictions, and ideals. Literally, as in actual rocks, because you know, that’s what “literally” means. I’m talking to you, Kim Kardashian.
I’ve spent a lot of energy cleaning things and putting things together and finding the right batteries, and changing broken light bulbs, and recycling the paper towel tubes, and texting, and scrolling, and working, and trying, and failing, and succeeding, and waiting for 5 o’clock on Friday to just magically get here already.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
And all the damn while, while I’ve been waiting, I’ve wiped things down, put things back, folded piles upon piles of laundry, and searched in my purse for that small thing I need that is never, ever there until I don’t need it. I’m talking to you, safety pin.
Driving, emptying. Filling up again. Loading, unloading, filling up again.
I’ll be 50-something this year, edging even closer to my “mid-50s” instead of my “early-50s” and it won’t get better than right now. As much as I’d like to think the “best is yet to come,” it probably won’t.
Lately, I’ve been digesting a cold hard truth: my life has become one of ticking clocks and moving rocks.
So here’s another truth, and boy is it simple: I can watch the clock and move rocks, or I can choose to treat each day as a blessing I never thought I’d get.
In other words, I can carpe diem! So easy to say, yet so difficult, most of the time, to do.
Seizing the day means we must get it now. That feeling, that happiness, that fulfillment. We must get it as best we can during the only guaranteed day we have— this one. We must practice knowing, with certainty, that nothing is permanent. We must gratefully surrender inside the moment, for the moment. We must repeat, with clarity, the active retrieval of one pulsing thought: it might not get better than today.
We may achieve more in our lifetime. We may be filled to the brim with the feelings that come with accomplishment and we might not look back to yesterday with longing or regret. But, let’s be real here. We simply cannot escape getting older. And as we get older, like it or not, the moments pass a bit quicker, and things fall apart. The wheels come off, and guess what? We spend some more time waiting.
Waiting for a hip to heal.
Waiting for our son to bring us our groceries.
Waiting for our radiation treatment.
Waiting for a nice day to just sit outside.
Waiting for someone to simply pay attention to us.
I’ve spent the majority of my life within the walls of the waiting mundane, and I haven’t thought much about it. I’ve lingered within the spaces that fall between the planning and the doing. And while I have clear and wonderful memories of some bigger moments—the weddings, the birthday celebrations, and the family reunions, all the little insignificant moments of my life deserve some love and attention too. I’m talking to you, scrumptious avocado toast with coffee this morning while listening to the rain.
Although we can look back and remember the good times, the lovely moments we cherish, the other times don’t come back either. The little times. The smiling, connected, moving, ticking, mundane waiting ones—they don’t come back either.
One day, your dad is here and the next he’s gone. It was just last year that your dad died. For a while, you can still smell him on his favorite shirt, the old one you have hanging in your closet. Then another year passes and then, just like that, it’s suddenly been over 20 years. And that shirt? Well, you buried it with his brother’s ashes. One moment they are smiling in fish pictures, sharing a moment, and the next they are side by side in the ground.
Your child is born, a screaming little curious creature, and then all at once, she’s three. You blink and you’re teaching her how to drive. You blink again, and she’s all dressed up for a dance, then graduating, then off to college, then to a new job. And then, just like that, she’s married, and having a baby, and then another.
Your pretty little spark plug wife fights and fights, but succumbs to a cancer that proves too vile. You are a widower in your 50s and it’s time to begin again.
Moments counted, moments gone.
Moving rocks, and ticking clocks.
So, carpe diem.
Yes, I’m saying it again.
Do that thing you want to do. Do it today. Today is beautiful. It’s as beautiful as it’s ever going to be. It’s glorious and messy and rainy and real. Plant a tree. Hug your babies, call your parents, and let it be the gift you not only get, but give.
Stop all this waiting to live.
Life is not a future thing.