Each of us, upon birth, arrived on this planet with a gift too precious to gauge
And along with this gift came one absolute certainty covered in a wrapping of complete uncertainty.
The gift of life was granted to each of us and, when coupled with the gift of choice, grants us the opportunity to select our own pathway and stay on it for as long as we wish or until the absolute certainty of our death reveals the uncertainty of its date.
Yesterday a tragic plane crash claimed the lives of four people, one of whom recently served as the premier of our province.
The news accounts of this incident tell us that the plane crashed just moments after takeoff and the swiftness with which this tragedy occurred is a stark reminder of how quickly this wonderful gift can be taken away and, once removed, can never be replaced.
Similar tragedies find their way into our newscasts each day and, unless the people involved are personally known to us, news of their demise rarely has any impact on us.
Yet each of these horrific events offers a teaching moment for us all and we would be well served by paying attention and learning the lessons.
The inevitability of our own death is made tolerable only by the fact that its date is unknown and by the sense that it is a far distant event unworthy of our present focus.
I’m sure none of those poor souls, in boarding the plane, had any sense that their remaining time was measurable by mere minutes and that the precious gift of life was about to be taken from them.
And not a single one of us reading this blog post today can know with any certainty that we will still be here at this time tomorrow.
The lesson is not to take this remarkable gift for granted. Not knowing which day will be our last should serve to remind us of the need to live each day as if it was.
We get so wrapped up in all the things that are not working the way we want them to be – our jobs, our relationships, our finances, our family dynamics and anything else that provides us cause for complaint – that we often neglect to enjoy and appreciate all that life has to offer.
A wise teacher once suggested an exercise. She encouraged me to make a list of 15 things I would absolutely do today if I knew with certainty I would not be here tomorrow.
She told me that many people to whom she had suggested the same exercise, often began by listing material things that they thought would make them happy. She went on to say that in almost every case, once they read the list, they would draw a line through it and start over, this time listing those things that really do matter.
Inevitably the second list contained items like: tell people close to you how much you love them; apologize to those to whom you owe an apology; get up early and enjoy the sunrise, take time to smell a flower, go for a walk on the beach or in a park, thank a friend for how much joy they have brought into your life; pay a compliment to a stranger; perform a random act of kindness, offer to help someone who needs that help; appreciate all the beauty that surrounds you; enjoy the magic of the sunset; fix a broken friendship and finally, spend time reflecting on all those wonderful moments the gift of life has enabled you to enjoy.
I haven’t thought of that wonderful teacher in many years but I did today. And for the first time in a long time I wrote down my list and made a pledge to act on at least three items on my list each day.
I hope I have many thousands of days left to enjoy the benefits of appreciation that I know will come from during those three things each day but, as I don’t know how many days lie ahead of me I will place great focus and emphasis on appreciating each moment.
And I invite you to make your own list and to enjoy it for each of your remaining days.
It is a gift too precious to ignore.
Till we read again.