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Perspective

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. —Anonymous

I think I’ve thoroughly established around here that Julie the Cruise Director Bill is a doer, a planner, a get-up-off-your-ass-and-move kind of guy. He is always on the go, making plans, going places, meeting friends. He likes the idea of sitting still, of just being, but can’t really wrap his head around actually doing that.

For my part, I’m The Master of Chill. I have no problem lounging around, doing not much of anything except riding the couch, watching the TV and/or reading a book. For me, there’s a lot of pleasure in doing nothing. A perfect day is one that extends infinitely ahead of me without plans or demands. It’s how I get my bearings, find my center.

Most of the time Bill and I balance each other our pretty well. He drags me out (sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes willingly) to do things, and 85% of the time I’m glad he did. Some days I insist that we’re doing nothing and I plant myself somewhere and refuse to budge like a willful child. About 85% of the time Bill will tell me later in the day that he needed to do nothing that day.

Until a few days ago, though, I wasn’t really sure why he was so unrelenting with doing. There’s almost an urgency to it sometimes, as though if he can keep moving…what?

We were having one of those State of Our Marriage talks that happen from time to time. Nothing serious—more like a check-up more than anything. You good? Yup. You? Yup—and the topic of living life came up. Bill was reminding me that it’s not just doing what you have to do, but really living life—actively participating, taking charge, having fun and not letting it pass you by.

I’m all for that, but I’m a proponent of balance, too.

And then he said something that made everything click in place:

“I’m 55 years old. My father died when he was 75. If that’s any indicator, I’ve got 20 years left. I’m not about to spend that time waiting, watching life pass me by.”

That slapped me hard. Suddenly, 20 years doesn’t seem that long.

Granted, it’s a somewhat fatalistic view of life, but I suppose there’s a lot of truth in it. We talk about going here, doing that, writing more, traveling, doing things that make us happy. So what am I doing? What am I waiting for? I want to spend more time with my husband, doing things together, having fun. And not just because he may only have “20 years left” (truth be told, he’ll outlive me!), but because I don’t want life to pass me by. I don’t want to wake up when I’m 80 and wonder what I did all my life. Because as much as I love my Tivo, it’s not what I’m going to remember when I’m sitting in my rocking chair at the old folks’ home.

I’m not going to live my life like a game of Beat the Clock, but I will definitely say “Yes” more. I will try to get out more and burrow in my house less.

What have I got to lose?

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14 Responses

  1. I needed to read this like you wouldn’t believe. Because I’m with Bill. There are things to do – not so much on the places to go thing, but that’s a different matter.

    I forget that it’s not a race. It’s a journey, and I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as I should sometimes.

    • The Places to Go thing is good and can be fun, but it’s definitely about doing what you want to do, being with family and friends and enjoying it all.

  2. Very true, My parents are celebrating their 50th this september and let me tell you not all 50 have been roses and champagne..so saying yes more often is really awsome. DO IT.

  3. I think what’s most important is that you do your own version of living. Live a life that satisfies you and you shouldn’t look back over it with regrets. I think sometimes society screams at us that we’re supposed to do more and be more and see more, etc, and sometimes what’s most important is that you just….be. And if going/doing/seeing more accomplishes that, then awesome. If it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean your life has any less value. All that being said, however, learning to be braver and not limiting yourself with no because you’re either afraid of change or stepping out of your comfort zone is a very excellent idea!

    And, not to make light, luckily Bill has probably lived a much, MUCH healthier life than the men in his family before him, so he should live until a hundred at least!

    • It is ALL about being brave and stepping out of my comfort zone for me. I tend to do nothing when I feel paralyzed about doing something. Don’t get me wrong—I’m still a fan on riding the couch, but more because I’m tired and less because I’m stuck!

      Dave S: If you’re reading this, I’m still considering skydiving!

  4. I heard the same thing at a seminar this weekend, that Ed joined me for (first time!). The speaker said if we’re 50 we have 20-25 years left to do…whatever. I have a hard time defining “whatever” too.

    So, want to meet us at VWC Friday night to see the Ann Drexler Trio? It will be Ed’s first day off since Sunday, when he went to church with me too….guess he knows his age!

    • I hate thinking in terms of “I only have X amount of years left” because really, who knows. But I’m with you—sometimes I’m not sure what I want to do. I just know I’m not doing it! That’s where the challenge for me is.

      I have a hot date on Friday night, but we will definitely plan a trip to VWC in the near future.

  5. My not-athletic parents (70 and 68) went to Belize this past winter, snorkeled with manta rays, did a zipline through the trees.

    I think their attitude is more ‘what the hell’ than ‘gotta tick these thing off the checklist’. Either way, they’re having a blast, and making sure they leave no inheritance!

    Huzzah!

    • My parents, who are 76 and 80, live their lives the same way and it’s great. If the urge to go somewhere strikes, they go. It’s a nice way to live! (And we keep telling them—hell, it’s their money, they earned it, so spend it!)

  6. Congrats on your blogovesary.

    Getting old does suck – especially having to read the find print.

  7. I agree with Lesley. Being out and about all the time doing stuff isn’t necessarily “living life”. Sometimes it’s “avoiding life”. I know plenty of people who frantically need always to be out doing something, being with people. They can’t stand just being home for a day doing nothing. What is really important to your life isn’t found in some night club or some exotic country halfway around the world or at the end of a bunjee cord. At the end of the day, as you say Mo, it’s about the people you share your life with that’s important.

  8. HAPPY BERFDAY!!!!

  9. Well you know what I’ve been going through with my mom. It slapped me into reality too that life is way to short. I want to live the best life I can EVERYDAY and enjoying my family and friends more. I am going to live the life I was meant to and nothing’s gonna stop me!

    So Amen to you sister…Amen!

  10. Although i am only 24, i feel that i can’t wait for life to happen, rather i should go make it happen for myself! I have a little girl on the way and i want to always have a life story to tell her! I like this post!

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