I’m 67 years old and thought I was a goner at 40. The Doctors thought so too. If you’d have offered me a deal back then that I could live to be only 45 years old I’d have taken the deal in a heartbeat. The thought of living to be 67 was crazy.
I’ve looked death square in the face many times in my life, have been opened up and carved on from the Mayo clinic to local quacks and have suffered two significant strokes. After this last one there were days I thought I didn’t have 24 hours to live. I see doctors on a weekly basis, it takes 11 different prescriptions to keep me alive, I haven’t been able to eat normally for 27 years, have to sleep in a chair, can’t drive or travel 20 miles from home without getting pancreatitis, and I’m in constant pain.
And I think I’m the luckiest guy in the world!
I’m one tough son of a gun and people who know my story often ask how I do it. I always reply, “One day at a time,” If you break it down into its smallest parts you’ll realize that a day is a very long time indeed: 24 hours, 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. If a hug with my beautiful wife lasts 5 seconds that means I could hug her 17,280 times in a day, although I doubt she’d let me.
In a single day do you know how many dogs you could pet, how many times you could smile at the cat and how many times you could tell your spouse or kids that you love them? How long does it take to enjoy a sunup or a sundown, to play peek-a-boo with a baby or spend a few minutes in quiet reflection enjoying your aloneness while digging in the dirt, the potting soil of life.(Hard work is the fertilizer.)
It only takes a few minutes to romp in the rain, read good writing, sing old songs off key at the top of your lungs while dancing as if no one is watching, relax in a rocking chair on the front porch and wave to everyone who passes by, ride a bicycle into the wind, fly a kite, sail a boat, play checkers with a youngster and let them win, or shovel the snow off the front walk of an elderly person and then enjoy a hot cup of cocoa with them afterwards? You could do all that in a single day and still have plenty of time left over to honor an old soul at the rest home with reflections of days gone by.
Really, how long does it take to put in a few jigsaw pieces with your mother, watch your grandkid’s ballgame or dance recital, enjoy a barbecued steak and homemade ice cream with the neighbors, or plant a tree that will provide shade for others long after you’re gone?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during my difficult journey is that life is still worth living even if you’re not destined for greatness. So slow down, get out of the fast lane and back to nature because the enjoyment is in the journey, not the destination. I just spent two minutes watching a covey of baby quail try to follow their mother up a curb next to the sidewalk and I laughed myself silly.
I’ve read there are some species of butterflies that only live for one day and just think of the beauty they bring into this world. So when I’m lucky enough to wake up in the morning, no matter how bad I feel, I vow to be a butterfly that day. I have no time to waste on poor pitiful me. I don’t waste my valuable seconds dreaming of a life other than the the one I have.
I spend my days saying “hello” not “goodbye.”
My goal is to make each day a more glorious masterpiece than the day before. And if I have done my job, at the end of a long day I’m exhausted having squeezed every second out of life that day. Then I can float away into dreamland and get to relive my wonderful life all over again.
Want to get a lot more living out of your life? Take it from me… be a butterfly.