I came across this quote a few months ago, and I must admit - it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew the moment after I read it, that there was great meaning sewn in between those words. I had pictures in my mind of a man in his 70s or 80s sitting quietly in an empty house, contemplating the decades behind him and for whatever reason - regretting missed opportunities. Of course, the stinging part of such quiet reflection is the reality that there is little, or no time to make up for these lost opportunities.
It's no surprise really. When we are born, for the most part we are full of vitality and energy. The world is our oyster, ready for the taking. We feel invincible and we are foolish enough (well, maybe naive is a better term) to try anything. Consequence and responsibility are barely an afterthought much less a motivating factor. We make mistakes...sure, but we experience, we learn, we grow. Our mouths, our ears, and our eyes are wide open and we take it all in.
And then along the way, something happens. You won't catch me quoting Karl Marx very often - however, he once said that Religion was the opiate of the masses. Now, I don't believe that at all - I mean, NOT AT ALL. But, I mention it here because I believe that there are many things in life that act as an opiate. Whether it be a home in the suburbs, or a cushy job "at the factory", or whatever. We walk around life like Zombies with our white picket fences, 2 weeks of paid vacation and a half turned smile and we lose all ambition.
Every now and then, something will happen to snap us out of our consumer induced coma. For some people, the recession was a wake up call. Forclosure...lay off...starting over. For others, it may be a more personal catastrophe. It's easy for someone to spout off the idealistic "Live every day as if it were your last" and I think most of us know that it's wholly unrealistic. Perhaps there's a middle ground. Don't go and empty out your savings account and fly to Europe without so much as an hour to think about it...but don't sit there on your couch and watch reruns of Dancing with the Stars, either! I don't care if you're 60 or 70...the same advice still applies: You're not getting any younger! So wake up...get up...get moving. Start small if you have to, but do something you've never done before and do it today. Then do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day! Then in a year...look back and smile, but not for too long - you've got to top that year with the new year!
I'd hate to piggyback one memorable quote with another, but it's a movie quote - so I'll allow myself a little artistic license. The movie Joe vs. The Volcano (Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan) is a great comedy - if you haven't seen it, go rent it. In the movie, Meg Ryan's character says:
My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.
Hopefully we can all wake up and live in a state of constant, total amazement. I honestly don't think that's too much to ask for. I think each of us deserves it. I know I do.