There are no do-overs or instant replays. This is not a dress rehearsal so, for God’s sake, do things that matter.
You only live once. Yeah, we know. We don’t need an in-your-face acronym to remind us, nor Mae West’s nifty, ad nauseum admonition that if we do that livin’ right, once is enough. That’s a big ask. What if we do life wrong? What if we pass up chances? What if the boxes we check off, as years go on, are those of regret?
Well, as they say – that’s life. There’s zero chance that we won’t make mistakes during this time on the planet. Regrets are just part of the ribbon tied package. Decisions we made, and those we didn’t. Words we said and those we never got to say. Still, if we judge our life solely on our mistakes, we miss the whole boatload of what we did right. Hell, even the fact that we did anything at all.
“Life is short, if you turn around you might miss it.” Ferris Bueller
Living life by a catchphrase can have a few flaws. YOLO doesn’t give us permission to run wild through our human years, acting dumb, drunk and clueless. It isn’t just one long Instagram worthy moment. It’s also not a green light to indulge with privilege, or disregard the innate gifts of health and heart you arrived here with. If you spend moolah like there’s no tomorrow and realize that, oops, indeed, there is, it will suck to know you burned through your bank account, right?
At its core, I think YOLO’s sister phrase might be Carpe Diem – seize the day. After all, your life is packed with days to seize. Knowing we come with a one way ticket with an expiration date, maybe we should plan on making each day the best we can. Chase our hopes. Seize each day. Live our lives to the fullest.
One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.
We’ve lived these last months within the frightening uncertainy of a pandemic that’s taken more than 100,000 people in our country in the blink of an eye. They had no time to consider if their YOLO was enough. COVID-19 gave them no choice in the matter. But, while we still have time, are still healthy and aware of all this world can hold, we still have time to stick the landing.
Political columnist, Charles Krauthammer said, “I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”
Not everyone can say that.
“Remembering that you’re going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking I have something to lose”. Steve Jobs
What will my legacy be? How will I make a difference, even a small one, in this world? Will I stand up and judge — or stand up to be counted? We can promise to do no harm, tell no untruth, live simply and life with authenticity. We can vow not to ever trade time for money. But we know that even the best laid promises have been broken. There was only one Mother Teresa and for most of us, being a nun in Calcutta isn’t in our plan. But even she said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” So there’s that.
“I just want them to know that I gave my all, did my best, brought someone some happiness, Left this world a little better just because I was here”. Beyonce
The day I came home to find that my husband had died in the single hour I had been gone, YOLO wasn’t the first thing on my mind. But that night was a stark reminder that no one knows the day or hour. If we did, I suspect, at the very least, my guy would have had a half pint of chocolate ice cream that night, left some great notes and taped himself singing one of his favorite songs.
But that was not in the plan.
What would we do if we knew we wouldn’t wake up the next morning, if we were among those suddenly stolen by COVID or a car accident, heart attack or, like my husband, an embolism? What would we say to those we love, if we were even given the time? Maybe we’d just be damn grateful for another day. We can’t wait for retirement, for the perfect time, the new job, the perfect love, the tax refund. Living life to the fullest means being all we were born to be. Sometimes that means taking risks but not all risks mean bungee jumping. The most important things in life are what you bring in your heart and spirit.
“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now . . . for I shall not pass this way again.” Etienne de Grellet
Today you are here. Live it like it was your last. It might be, but probably won’t. Still, life is uncertain, so if you love someone, tell them, show them. Eat the dessert. Share love, not hate. Stand up for what’s right; speak out for justice. Be kind. If you’re grateful, pass it on. If you can be of help, go for it. Leave it all on the field.
Life is too short to wait.