“I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” Benjamin Button
No one’s life is an accident. Of course, it is chock full of accidental incidents but then, that IS life, right? All the ‘if only that hadn’t happened’ incidents are out of our control but still intersect our lives. So do the people in them. It’s said that we are all connected; a world full of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. Spoiler alert: That’s even truer on ‘the other side’ — and I don’t mean across the pond. When this world is in the rear view, we’ll find people from every culture, value system and coloring in a mash-up of everyone who’s ever lived here, there and everywhere. It would probably make sense then, to pay more attention to making friends, or at the very least, acknowledge with kindness some of the souls who’ll be our roommates in eternity.
Life has a time limit but as long as we’re here, why not try? Change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it, we just have to be awake during the ride.
Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.
Like Benjamin Button, the aging process is pretty much a metaphor. Whether we live our lives backwards or forward, the beginning and end of life is the same. The point is how we live in the dash in between. Anyone who’s lived a near death experience is pretty adamant about not wasting a minute on things that don’t count. Money is a means to an end; not the goal. Work is merely tool to make ours and others’ lives better. Instant gratification isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Superficial lasts only until it becomes boring. Fear and anxiety are real, as real as the feeling you get going bungee jumping if you’re afraid of heights. Moments shared, kindness multiplied; those are the true fabrics that should weave how we want to live.
If you’ve already been to the dark side, things might be looking up. Heights and closed spaces, trains, planes and autos have no meaning because death is something you’ve been there, done that. Everything is relative.
“Life moves pretty fast sometimes. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller
Loving unconditionally – and being loved the same way, that’s the one true thing. That’s all that actually outlives us. Being at peace with everything you love means you actually learned the lessons you were sent to experience. Take the chance; surmount the fear (As chicken little, I might not be best one to talk about taking chances). Love changes us; it shapes and transforms us. Even the most macho become a blubbering softy the first time they hold their baby. Anyone who’s sits in the wee hours beside the bed of a sick child, knows heart twisting, desperate love – when you’re not cleaning up puke for the 10th time that night. The day you say I do, loves rises up and nearly bursts out of you; ditto the day, and all days after, that person dies.
So, how DO you get Benjamin Buttoned? How do you feel truly alive on the entire roller coaster ride, and not close your eyes through the scary, stomach churning parts? How do you ignor your body literally turning its back on you? Peering into the strange bassinette of age, it’s more than weird to see the face of someone in an assisted living home. Then again, think of all the kids meals you could snag with your senior citizens discounts.
“Life is half spent before we know what it is.” George Herbert
Life is hard. No one will argue with that, but it’s also amazing. When we fall on our butts or are pushed by a loss of a loved one, a job, a home, all we can do is pull up our big girl panties, gather what’s left and move forward. What’s the alternative? But when we do, given the time and reflection, we can see the good that was ‘Buttoned’ in with the loss; the memories, the love, the growth.
“Don’t let aging get you down. It’s too hard to get back up”. John Wagner
It’s freaking painful to realize we’ve grown old(er) but that ride starts the day we are born. The chunks of growth in between are just mile markers along the way. The realization of how much time has slipped away is subtle. It sneaks up on you in big and little ways and sometimes it’s freakin’ terrifying – I’m not gonna lie. But if we dare to look at the whole life package, age be damned, hopefully we realize that the crumbs at the bottom of the bag may be smaller, but just as tasty. We can either deep six the bag of Cracker Jacks after the best pieces are gone, or grab with gusto every last morsel. Your choice.
“Don’t regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many”.
Trust me, I know that aging is, indeed, a privilege not given to all. My brother died at 19; my husband long before he ever planned to retire. Yet, I’m hardly always a plucky paragon of positivity, often forgetting to just be damn grateful for days still allotted. When the age roller coaster tells me I’m too old for Snapchat and too young for Life Alert, all I want is a hard pass. Nothing I would love more than to relive the good times, skip bad ones and achieve all the big stuff for mankind I never got around to. But that’s not the way the punch card of life works.
So, channel your Benjamin Button. Ignor the arm wattle, those few extra pounds and go full throttle through your dash between. Take that trip – or not. Eat that salted caramel. Do every kindness. Love whoever steps in your path.
Buy the shoes.