Life is Short. Live it well.
you've got time.
How Are You Spending It?
Caleb and I celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary last week with a whirlwind trip. Austin, Waco, Dallas, LA, Big Sur, San Fran and back to Kansas City, all in 10 days. It was an absolute dream. We rented bikes and rode across the Golden Gate bridge. We drank beer with old friends under the Texas spring sun. We went to freaking Hogwarts! Then we came home, returned to our jobs, and our dog chewed a hole straight through the rug in the study. We went back to 'normal' life.
Driving to the airport, we talked about how we could avoid the post-vacation blues. How we could implement some of the dreams we discussed on our trip. How we could make our 'normal' life less robotic and more beautiful. Less Netflix more reading. Less social media more dinners with friends. This excursion reminded me again how beautiful the world is, how very short life is, and how much left there is in front of me.
I came home with fresh fire to not waste my life. Because the truth is, none of us know what the future holds. Maybe I will live to be as old as my Grammies, who just turned 90 and is still a wiz in the kitchen. Or maybe my cat will suffocate me in my sleep tonight, I honestly wouldn't be surprised.
All I know is that life is short and I want to live it well.
Before you roll your eyes, yes, I realize I am on a vacation high. I just left some of the most magical places in the world (Hogwarts), but shouldn't that be the way it is? Shouldn't beauty inspire us to live better, create more, spend time more intentionally? How often do we live our lives stumbling through the motions, seeking distraction and entertainment, and not letting beauty inspire us to contribute something meaningful to this world? I know I'm guilty.
It's a daunting thought- living well. Think about it: You have x amount of years on this planet, with absolutely no control over the conditions you're born into. There are no set parameters as to what you must do with your time, besides cultural norms or family expectations perhaps. But theoretically, your life is up to you. You could watch re-runs of Fraser 12 hours a day. You can build a career and/or start a family. You could travel the world or try to break the world record for longest fingernails (this is a real thing).
Don't get me wrong; there are things that will stand in the way of the pursuit to live well. There is injustice, racism, and even more subtle barriers like Netfilx (which we all know can be a time suck just as much as it can be a blessing) and money (or lack thereof). There are real struggles in this world, pain that settles deep into your bones and cries out for numbing. I don't want to detract from that or tell you to glaze over it, because I think living well means taking life for all it has to offer. Pain and joy alike. And living well for one person will look totally different than someone else. The bottom line is:
When you were born, you were given the gift of time. How well are you using it?
If you look at life through the lens of comparison, someone will always have it 'better' or 'easier' than you. Some are born into privilege, be it wealth or geography. Maybe someone's parents set up a trust for them and you've had to hustle your whole life to scrape by. Or perhaps you got skipped over for that job because of the color of your skin or gender. Maybe you didn't have an opportunity to go to college because of where you lived or the responsibilities you had.
Life, while short, isn't always fair.
But if you look at life through a lens of gratitude, this world can be a bountiful place. We all have a choice, whether you have a million bricks of hardship stacked against you or you have the world at your feet, you can live intentionally or not. It's your call. You can let the injustices of the world piss you off permanently, or you can work hard to seek out and soak up the beauty around you.
Yes, sacrifices will need to be made. Dishes will always have to be washed. You'll inevitably work a tedious job. Dogs might chew through the carpet, but there's beauty in that too...somewhere. Living well doesn't mean,"if it's not fun don't do it". Living well is a perspective change. It's taking off the comparative, grouch glasses and looking through the gratitude glasses. It's allowing the chaos and mundane tasks that makeup 'normal' life to build character, compassion, and gentleness in your soul, so that when you are faced with beauty- you can appreciate it.
In fact, I don't think life should be spent in the sole pursuit of beauty or pleasure.
Everyone should keep their eyes open for the good, the lovely things, in this world and let it move them to give something noble back. That is a life well lived, in this woman's humble opinion. A life on the lookout to make the world better in some way. One that is willing to work hard, love deeply, and take some risks.
I truly believe there is a talent inside you- your business savvy, painting, banjo picking- that needs to be alive in the world, and I want you to live (really live) each day you have left with that in mind. So here is my challenge: This weekend, I want you to go out and find something beautiful to you. Be it mountains or a movie or Chipotle, something that makes you feel wonder and thankfulness to be alive. Enjoy that and then be resolute in creating moments like that more intentionally from here on out. Carve out space to create, dream, go for a walk, pay for a strangers meal. Live for more than just retirement. Go out of your way today to enjoy the time you are given and leave this world better than when you came into it.
*Is it bad to hope that someone read this while listening to Seasons of Love? If you did, please let me know.