“Life is a preparation for the future;
and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.”
~ Albert Einstein
"If you love someone, hurry up and show it."
~Rose Zadra, Age 6
It really is that simple. There are no assurances in life that even the next moment will be waiting for us, so we better pay attention to now, and enjoy it as much as we can.
I came to this understanding when my sister died of complications from Multiple Sclerosis a couple of days after she turned thirty-two. While she was sick, there was no reason for her to die at that point in her life. The doctors had missed (I don't know how, but I won't go there) that she'd developed blood clots in her legs, and she died one night from a pulmonary embolism. Just like that, my sister and best friend was gone.
To be honest, I think watching her health and abilities deteriorate over a short period of time was just as instrumental in teaching me to appreciate each moment of life as was her unexpected death. Sometimes it seemed like each day she'd lose her ability to do something else. It was unbelievably hard to watch, and I can only imagine how hard it was to be the one living through those losses.
I admit that it's easy to lose sight of being grateful for what I have, or even to see what good things I have in life. I get busy, or things get stressful, and I start to wish for things to be different instead of accepting and appreciating. That is why it's important to meditate even for just a few minutes a day, to slow down and refocus on what is important to us and what is good in the now. There will always be things to be changed, or desires for what we don't currently have, but all of that is in the future, and we're alive now. Right now. In this present moment.
Living in the moment, though, doesn't mean YOLO (you only live once.) It's not about doing stupid or dangerous things. Living in the moment is about experiencing each moment, and not even judging it as good or bad. It's not being reactive, but being thoughtful to the world, to others and ourselves.
So, I try to keep my thoughts on what is good even when things are icky, on what I can do right now to be happy, or to achieve a goal (and not procrastinate - which I tend to do alot!) I try to let those I love know I love them, and to recognize when they show their love for me. I try to take time and really listen to people and be present for them when they just need someone to talk to. I try to look around, notice the happiness in other people's smiles, feel the breeze on my skin, smell the moisture in the air and marvel at the beauty of the world that surrounds me. I try to not hold grudges or be cranky, even though I had a rough day at work.
Because, if I died tomorrow, I'd want my kids to know I loved them because I spent time playing with them. I'd want to have taken risks when I needed to, and have been responsible when I had to be. I'd want the people who know me to remember me as being kind and compassionate. Because, if I died tomorrow, I wouldn't want to regret not looking at the bright blue sky, listening to the meadowlarks and feeling the magnitude of the Universe in the very small. I wouldn't want to have missed the little moments full of hugs and laughter and love--I wouldn't want to have missed out on the everyday magic of life.
Because it's that simple. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Not even the next moment. All we have is now.