Everyday on the way to work I pass two large cemeteries on either side of the road. Around this time of year the morning sunlight softly glows through old tree branches as if trying to chase away the shadows still lingering from the early dawn. Sometimes fog creates a misty, eye-catching scene like out of a movie.
As I drove by on one recent fall morning, I suddenly became overwhelmed with the number of tombstones surrounding me. I wondered about the hopes and dreams and hardships that all of these deceased individuals faced. I thought about how tragic it would be to die with the regret of not living in the present and soaking up all of the little gifts and blessings that come with each day.
I’m guilty of secretly longing for this idyllic moment when I have accomplished all I have set out to do. I can finally say that I have “arrived.” The truth is that I will NEVER get to a place where my work is finished. I will always be growing, learning, and evolving. It’s easy to get caught up in planning for the future and imagining how great everything will be when…
All that does, though, is rob me of enjoying the lovely little moments in the present.
If I’m not careful, I’ll miss the sound of spontaneous laughter bursting out of my five-year-old as she giggles over a joke she shares with her older sister. I’ll miss snuggling under a big blanket watching a movie we’ve seen ten times. I’ll miss the comfort of a warm mug of coffee. I’ll miss the beautiful red cardinal flying around my backyard. I’ll miss seeing my husband for all he is, does, and strives to be.
Everything in life is a journey. Whether we are starting a business, forming new relationships, or growing in our faith, there is always work to be done. We will never feel like we are able to rest.
But we need to.
We need to take time to pay attention to what is going on around us. We need to pause and focus. We need to be mindful and enjoy the journey that we are on. This life isn’t a quick race to some finish line. If we work like mad to try to achieve some goal only to look back and discover our kids are older and our relationships have suffered, what have we achieved?
I know personally that I feel more stressed when I’m stuck too far in the future trying to create the life I think I should be living. I try to control, more than trust. I try to do, more than be.
No day is guaranteed. There may not be tomorrow. Each day is truly a gift. If today was your last day on earth, what would you say? What would you do? Who would you be?