I have returned home from Colby and Kansas Dialogue. It was an exceptional weekend. I think this was my favorite of the four I've been to.
The last session this morning was a takeoff on "This I Believe." I was invited, along with five other people, to give a brief talk about a core belief.
I had practised many times, to try and get through it without getting too emotional. However, when you get to the point where you're talking about your core beliefs, it's likely to be emotional, and it was for me. I only cracked up once, and it wasn't even in the place where I expected it to be. To top it off, Teresa and I talked a long time last night and then I talked a lot this morning so I started off raspy, but that's the way it goes. I guess it was as it was meant to be.
This I Believe
I believe life is all about the little things. Life happens in the moments we're not paying attention. It's never the things we plan for that are the turning points - it's the things that blindside us on an idle Tuesday when we aren't watching. They come out of nowhere, hit us with a fury we couldn't have imagined an instant before, and move on - leaving us to pick up the pieces or revel in the celebration.
It's the things that happen every day that make up a life - the little things - the things we take for granted. Life is not the well planned, long imagined and carefully orchestrated moments. It's the little snippets we don't give a second thought to until we're wishing for them once they're gone.
For many years when I would visit my mother on her Kentucky farm, I would lie awake in the mornings and let the sounds of her daily life wash over me. I would hear the clink of dishes in the sink, the front door opening and closing, and her side of phone conversations. I would close my eyes and commit everything to memory - the sounds, the smells, the feelings - for I knew these times when I could eavesdrop on Mama's life were fleeting. I knew there would come a time when I would be desperate to have just one more of those ordinary mornings.
Life is not made up of the milestones we celebrate with cakes and parties. It's made up of ordinary days that slip into the past without us noting them. We don't long for more weddings and Christmases. We long for more Thursdays and Saturdays. We long for more every days and the routine little things that happen in them.
I believe we should live every day consciously aware that it could be our last. I believe we should try to capture those every day bits - live them fully. and take those memories with us into tomorrow - provided we get tomorrow. These small moments that make up a life are all there is. All relationships end - by choice or by death - we must not let a single second of any we have slip by unnoticed, unappreciated or misunderstood
I've always known death is close. Life is here and death is right there. It truly is a thin veil and it's easy for you or anyone else to cross over. That's why every ounce of life is a gift to be relished, soaked up, lived with complete abandon. The past is over and done with - not even God changes it. We have no guarantees of tomorrow, or even today. We have only this one moment and all that is precious about it, so live it.
Bake bread, treasure your true friends, and tempt fate... take long walks, make snow cream, and wander in distant lands... sing - even if you can't... live in awe every day... smell the lilacs in the spring and touch the smooth skin of pumpkins in the fall... cherish being on thin ice... dance...forget regret and embrace joy... stay up all night just to see the sunrise... learn something new every day... grow tomatoes, pick tulips and give more of yourself than you think you can.
Grieve when necessary, but be happy whenever possible. It's allowed, it's even encouraged. Marvel at a tree, love like your heart can never break, and have tea and cookies every afternoon. Say I love you, say I'm sorry and say I understand. Laugh, give in to your whims and cut everyone some slack, including yourself. Have conversation, give generously and stare at the moon. Listen more than you talk. Write letters, read books and indulge yourself. Be kind, be honest, be gracious, be grateful. Paint your walls red and play in piles of autumn leaves. Question everything, break the rules and respect your elders. Actually, respect everyone.
Wonder at new life, honor those who are dying, appreciate the gift that is living. Drink in the smell of coffee in the morning and sink your bare feet into freshly plowed fields. Eat the best chocolate - before meals. Wish on shooting stars, climb trees and pinky-swear with your best friend. Take responsibility and forgive yourself and others. Whisper "I Love you" in the dark, sleep with lightning bugs in a jar by your bed, jump in puddles and always stop to watch the snow fall. Live every moment like it's your last and never forget to be amazed.
I believe life is all about the little things.
--------copyright Patsy Terrell, August 2006, www.patsyterrell.com