Live like you are dying. Live each moment like it’s your last. Dance like no one is watching. Song lyrics, bumper stickers, and clever wall art surround us with inspirational messages reminding us to capture each moment and treasure it. In vulnerable moments we privately pledge to live better, love more, and be thankful for the time we have.
And yet, how many of us, if honest, would reluctantly admit we spend most of our minutes racing through life, managing chaos rather than stopping to smell the proverbial roses.
Embracing each moment, living with no regret, and living life to the fullest. I want to live like the songs suggest, but sadly, the tyranny of the urgent often barricades me from achieving a thankful life.
My dear friend was declared cancer free. She returned home from her final treatment tired but exultant. She had been given a second chance at life and she wanted to share that moment with me. She invited me to her home to pray, sing, and relish her renewed sense of thanksgiving.
I can’t recall now what urgent matter prevented me from accepting her precious invitation. Maybe a sick child, a necessary trip to the store, or some other fleeting need loomed large with inflated importance at the time of the call. I will see her next week, when it is more convenient, I probably reasoned.
A few weeks later she lay dying in a hospital bed. The doctors missed something. When I arrived at her bedside, she said quietly, “My Trish Propson, you finally came.”
I have never forgotten her words or her face in our final moment. Walking numbly back to my car after I kissed her goodbye for the last time, I was battered by an ugly truth. I missed a profound moment with my precious friend and I could never reclaim it. I would never have a second chance to recreate an intimate moment of thanksgiving with her.
That moment impacted me. With fierce commitment I vowed to seize thanksgiving and live with no regret for any more lost moments in my life.
Humbly, nearly two decades later, I often find myself enslaved to the urgent, meaningless tasks that prevent me from embracing thankfulness. A few more regrets have piled up.
Another dear friend recently challenged me to chronicle the moments I am thankful for. She gave me a simple glass jar and a pretty notepad. I was to write down one thing I was thankful for every day as a reminder to savor the true, noble, right, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy moments in each day. The first card was thankfulness for her friendship.
During a recent personal tragedy, I purchased yet another cliché plaque to hang in my home. “Life isn’t about calming the storm; it is about learning to dance in the rain.”
I wish I could say I have learned to approach every new day with thanksgiving, I have embraced each moment like it was my last, or even that I have learned to dance in the rain. I haven’t. But I am more aware of my propensity to ignore the beautiful moments of life, choosing instead to trudge through each day managing chaos.
I am thankful for that new awareness. I hope I am learning to live with fewer regrets, taking time each day to recognize moments I can truly be thankful for.
How can we live like the bumper stickers and songs proclaim? Think about integrating these ideas of thanksgiving into each day.
1) Take inventory of your life. Make a list of things you are thankful for, even if it is forced and you don’t quite believe it.
2) Slow down. Are you missing the beautiful moments that cause an attitude of gratitude? Cut something out of your busy schedule to help change your perspective.
3) Let someone you love know you are thankful for their presence in your life. Tell them something specific you are thankful for about them.
4) Write a thank you note. Old fashioned? Maybe, but taking time to write a thank you note forces you to stop and think about something lovely another person has done for you. Receiving your card may cause thankfulness in them as well.
5) Make a thanksgiving jar. Every day write down one thing you are thankful for.
Read through them occasionally to remind yourself to be thankful for each beautiful moment you are given.