With a few exceptions, a few caveats, it feels like our world is slowly coming back to life. We all received a major wake-up call in 2020. Facing harsh new realities as we waged war against The pandemic. Millions of people lost that battle, and their lives. My own heightened awareness about my health & optimism became a daily priority. Almost an obsession. But I also began looking at the Bigger Picture of things. The well-known phrase, “Live each day like it was your last” has gained new meaning. But if I’m more ‘woke’ now, how was I living my life ‘before’ ? Seeking ‘better’, not a return to ‘what was’
Virus, or no Virus: have I been living my life in a wild dance of happiness, or like a slow slog into ‘aging’? Am I in constant focus on the process of becoming ‘someone new’, or have I let myself get into a rut of routine and complacency? Have I been actively using – in the best ways – whatever Time I have here on planet earth, or am I just hanging-out? Waiting for what, or whom, exactly? What I’ve Learned During the Pandemic
In the month of May, in the span of two weeks, four people I knew and loved, died. Two were in their mid-nineties; so, yes, I could say, “good long lives”. But the other two people were younger. One, in fact – the son of a dear friend of mine – was only 28 years old.
Everything about Mason’s death was shocking. Disturbingly ‘wrong’. ‘Untimely’ in the extreme. His age. His health and strength. An expert skier and certified mountain-guide, he’d recently bought himself a home in Telluride, Colorado. He seemed to be at a peak of personal growth and professional happiness. And then. Without warning, a mountain glacier Mason had skied across one hundred times betrayed him. An unseen crack – a crevasse in that glacier – opened up and took him down. He fell so far that he was unreachable for hours. Precious last hours of his life. Too awful to think about.
I can remember being at that same ‘peak’. Feeling invincible. Not knowing what I didn’t know. Not really caring about that, either. Living in an orange cloud of health, vitality, and optimism. Open doors and new possibilities everywhere I looked.
In my 20’s and 30’s, I was pretty much blind to my limitations. I never thought about my own mortality, I just lived. With total engagement. In the belief that I would always have the opportunity for do-overs and second chances. My elders tried to tell me otherwise, but I was both blind and deaf to their input. I know now that being in that mindset allows us to live more fully, in joy. With an almost supernatural belief in our own abilities. The way a mom can lift a car off a trapped child underneath. She doesn’t hesitate with, “I wonder if I can do this?”
As awesome as that earlier stage of life felt, I’d never choose to go back to it. There’s just so much personal power, wisdom and perspective gained as we age. So — the pandemic has been less of a new “woke-ness” for me, and more a simple, stark reminder of what I’ve actually known all along. I’ve known it, but haven’t always practiced it. Life can be long, or tragically cut-short. Exciting and full of change, or boring and routine. Am I chasing new experiences, out of my comfort zone? Am I focused constantly on becoming ‘someone new’; or, am I just hanging-out, getting older, banking no real happiness?
Lately I’ve wondered…Does that amazing energy-flow of promise; hope; ‘invincibility’ automatically get pinched-off as we age? As we move farther and farther down the road, away from Youth? I think it can, if we allow that to happen. But it’s one thing – if an accident or horrific virus answers that question for me. It’s another thing entirely – if I pinch myself off from the attitudes, beliefs, actions and choices that keep me moving forward into a new day, a new version of myself. I’m definitely not waiting for another catastrophe, trying to force me to realize just how precious each new day is. Will We Remember What We’ve Learned?