My brother-in-law lost his best friend Milo yesterday. Suddenly and unexpectedly in a plane crash. Milo was the pilot, and sitting next to him was his grandfather Hal, so somewhere out there is a man who lost both his son and his father in the same moment. The son was 35, an honest, friendly, married businessman who played in his church band every Sunday morning. His grandfather was the owner of the plane, an 83-year-old distinguished Air Force veteran, and loving husband, father, and grandfather.
I knew the son only a bit - he played bass at one of my concerts in Oregon. I knew his father some, who played the piano at my husband's and my additional wedding ceremony also in Oregon. The family was close with my husband's family and this is truly a devastating loss to an entire community.
Even though I did not know these men well, this seemingly senseless surprise is hitting me strongly. Over the summer two friends of ours lost dear friends unexpectedly, and over the past year, two other friends lost parents suddenly and without warning. While at times this type of thing is often preferable to pre-death sickness, suffering, and pain, the jarring nature of it leaves the surviving loved ones in shock and disbelief, often without the comforting closure of a goodbye. No matter how you look at it though, it throws into sharp relief a very simple and true concept:
Life is short.
No matter when a person dies, to that person, it's too soon. There are always more things to be done, more experiences to have, more breaths to breathe. We always think that there will be more time to accomplish those goals or have our dreams realized, but we also always know that the day will come when, quite simply, there isn't.
I would encourage you, and all of us, to pursue those dreams, those goals, and those wishes, before it is too late. However you can. Stop waiting for the right time or the right moment and stop making excuses for why you can't. If you're an accountant but you've always wanted to spend your time throwing pots, sign up for a class and DO IT! You may not be able to support yourself at first, but why not take the first steps toward doing what you love? If your dream is to be a veterinarian but can't afford the tuition or the time, volunteer at an animal shelter to fuel that passion for working with animals while you save up and fill out scholarship applications. If you want to get married or have a serious relationship, PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE! Yes, you risk getting your heart broken, but you also risk falling in love and finding the partner you've always yearned for. Make the time to do the things you love and stop wasting time wishing your life away.
The people who are no longer walking the Earth had more dreams to pursue. Every single one of them. But they ran out of time, way before they were planning to.
In the words of Steve Jobs, who died at 56, "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." It doesn't matter what was expected of you or if you follow some plan that someone else laid out for you long ago. Your life is your own and it is UP TO YOU to make the absolute most of it you can. You cannot blame anyone else for the reasons why you haven't made your life the wonderful, spectacular, tremendous, and fulfilling one that you want it to be. And the time to do it is NOW.
Every morning when we wake up we have a choice. We can make it a good day, or we can make it a bad day. Or we can make it a mediocre day. Our attitudes and our thoughts make up our reality, and no matter what outside forces act upon us at any given time, we always have the choice to control how we think about them.
This morning when I tore off yesterday's page of my desk calendar this phrase was staring at me:
"Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Being alive is the special occasion."
Life is short. So go and live it while you can.