Wednesday, September 06, 2006

with gusto!

We take for granted that this minute will lead to the next; that the next minute will lead to the next hour. And the next hour will lead to the end of today, and the beginning of tomorrow.

We take for granted that we’ll have time to travel to Alaska next year. To cruise down the Panama Canal once this contract is delivered. Or that we can postpone a visit to a loved one for a few more months; maybe we’ll go in the fall.

Shrinking behind transparent excuses, we naively fool no-one but ourselves when we say that it’s not fear, but strategy, that keeps us sleepwalking through mundane careers or loveless marriages because of financial or other so-perceived convenient arrangements. That we can follow our passion, or be with the one who truly sets our heart and mind on fire, two, seven, 15, or 30 years from now. After college. After the kids have left home. After the house is paid for. After we’ve retired.

We take for granted that next week is coming. That our legs will still work. Our eyes will still see. Our hearts will still beat. But the terms and conditions of life are intangible, written on a non-refundable promissory note that can be revoked in the time it takes a butterfly to flicker its wing.

She knows firsthand. She was planning to quit work; planning where she would travel, what she would do. And how she would spend her days when they, at last, belonged to her. Now, one of my favorite cousins is nursing a heart attack. It was sudden. Unexpected. Mild. She was lucky—life's conditions were modified, terms were not revoked.

It was a wake up call for everyone who loves her and it made me uneasy to think how easily a wasted day can lead into unconsciously wasted weeks, even years. I thought of one of my favorite poems by John Keats, When I Have Fears, and immediately vowed to regroup priorities and focus on what’s important to me. To borrow a phrase from Dr. Stephen Covey “To Live. To Love. To Learn. To Leave a Legacy.”

I’d expand on that: To plan for the future, to honor the past, to live in the now. To breathe deeply and experience with all senses. To retain child-like curiosity and explore life with zest. To do what brings joy. To love with heartfelt passion. To laugh out loud—and often. To provide a safe, soft place for family and friends. To step out with courage and stand up to life with open arms. To love with passion … but wait, I already said that.

And to avoid further redundancies, and thus more wasted minutes (which might inadvertently lead into weeks) I must go live some more today. I encourage you, my friends, to do the same. With gusto!

When I Have Fears
By John Keats 1818

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.


Anonymous said...

Well said, Bibi - it is so easy to become caught up in the busy-ness of day to day lives, and postpone real living for some amorphous future. What if that future never comes? It is a thought that strikes fear in my heart on a regular basis. So many things left to do, see, and be!

Thanks for the reminder - carpe diem, with gusto!

paz y amor said...

Interesting post! This is my first time checking out your blog and I dig your writing style.

It's hard NOT to get caught up and forget to smell the roses everyday. I guess the way I look at it is that what may come will come and it's beyond my control (I guess I'm a bit of a pragmatist...) My hope is that I do enough to show the people I love that they mean a lot to me and that they've enhanced my life in some special way.

paz y amor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

thanks for your kind comment on my blog! your works are great. isn't it wonderful to find a living in the field we do love..? i'm on my way to do that..:-)
best wishes,

Ginco said...

It's this rat-race life style we lead, we certainly don,t take time to smell the flowers. We're always in a rush and say or think "I'll do this that or the other tomorrow!" Will there be a tomorrow?? LOL! I could go on and on here.
I've left a message on my comment box, do pop over and check it out!

Ginco said...

I got so carried away, I almost forgot to wish your cousin everything of the very best!!

Ant said...

So why are we all sitting here blogging about it then? :o)

I agree completely with the sentiment and try to live life to the fullest, but peversely I embrace the rat-race as part of that whole scene. Possibly as a result of the fact that I thoroughly enjoy my job but I love being busy, having appointments, closing deals, trying to build a mini business empire - cos tomorrow I might be knocked down by the number 44 bus and it'll all be over.

Of course, I try to smell the roses too - stay in touch with friends and family, do outdoors stuff as much as possible, laugh loud and often, etc. I guess it's all part of life's rich pageant...

Lady Lostris said...

Hi. Ive seen your face on comments on other blogs before, but never checked your blog out.

Im glad I did since I enjoyed everything I've read so far. Thanks for commenting on my blog.

I find myself just trying to get through each day and "get it under my belt" or behind me as it were. I rarely live in the moment or focus on letting the people I love know that they are loved. Its terrible how what we view as being important in life is very rarely what is really, really important in the big scheme of things.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Amento that.

I see so many zombies every day with their frowns firmly plastered on - heads down, tracing the cracks in the pavement for an opportunity to fall through them into some kind of imagined utopia.

Perhaps if they lifted their heads up and looked into the distance they might be able to plan a route to their destination instead of bumbling around in circles

'It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll' - AC/DC

'A journey of a thousand li (miles) starts with a single step' - confucius

Magic Door said...

A timely blog following what I was bemoaning today! Thanks for the nudge.

MSU gal said...

Great post. I was just talking to a friend of mine today about when I will go to see the Grand Canyon for the first time. I have it on a list that forecasts about five years of possible vacations. For one thing, it will not be soon enough and do I know if I will even be here five or six years from now? This post is definitely something to think about!

Kiyotoe said...

I think i've already shared similar thoughts with you. I'm really working on not allowing the "thought" of death interfere with living my life to the fullest......

........with Gusto!!

(wink wink)

Bibi said...

Thanks everyone for your comments!!

Becca, yes carpe diem!

Paz, like your philosophy and appreciate your feedback.

The Enigma, yep, it's great to love what you do, and do what you love! Keep going.

Ant, I said get out there w. gusto...whatever that means to you! I too love the rat race to a certain extent / it's all about fulfillment.

Ginocleaves, thanks for well wishes, she'd doing great.

Leigh ... one of the most dynamic people I know once said we're all just bozos on the bus (himself included) so you/we're in good company.

Ultra toast, like your zombie analogy.

Magic door, had to nudge myself too ;-)

MSU, go see it soon. It's fabulous.

Kiyotoe, here's to kissing football players, LOL

Anonymous said...

I tend to be a prince of procrastination putting off till tomorrow what I could do today. I even waited the weekend to comment on this latest most apropos article of yours. But I must admit that I am doing better than I once was. I used to sit on the shoulder of life's interstate letting it's traffic pass me by at an alarming rate. Then an event most would consider tragic caused me to realize how precious life can be when one uses one's time in a healthy balance of productivity and recreation. It is truly bliss when the two become one, which happens rarely, but it does happen. It tends to come in spurts between periods of laziness. But sometimes it is enough to go through a day without pain, either physical or emotional.

Kelly Wolfe said...

damn, that is beautiful. good for you, a fine tribute to your friend. I hope she recovers soon.


Anonymous said...

Awesome. Just what I needed to hear. Read your article on the Discovery doc on the air last year = remember DT? Boston? ;-) Will e u.

Bibi said...

Anon, I love 'the shoulders of life's interstate', a place we've all been but many never get off. But it sounds as though you got a wake up call before it was too late.

Lisa, thank you so much!!

And the last Anon ... I'm curious... can't place it??