This has been a week of reminders to be grateful for what I have and to make the most of life before it is too late.
It started on Monday with the news that a friend’s mother had passed away at the age of 90, that is a good age, a longer stretch on this earth than most of us can expect. Her departure, although sad for the family was not unexpected.
Then a friend who is much younger than I, closer to my elder son’s age than mine, underwent a particularly difficult surgical operation. Despite initial good signs, things no longer look as promising, in fact not good at all. We hope that he will come through it.
Yesterday, I had 45 minutes to spare between a visit to the dentist in another town and my next meeting so on a whim I took a detour to drop in on a connection in the horse world who I had not seen for several months. He greeted me with the news that his father had dropped dead a few months back at he age of 67 with no history of health problems. That is only a few years older than I am right now.
Also yesterday, the news that Andrew Breitbart, conservative blogger and political commentator dead at 43.
All that makes my dental problems, homesickness for my old life and country or fields too muddy to ride the horses, suddenly seem very minor irritations in the overall scheme of things.
Readers of my story on the About me page, will know that in Africa, I had a very different life to most North Americans. Sudden death, loss of family, friends, homes and businesses, financial upheavals, political turmoil and more than enough examples of man’s nasty and brutal side in action, have all made me appreciate how quickly our lives can be irreversibly changed. How we can be forced onto a completely new track in a heartbeat. How lives can be snuffed out with no warning.
The memories of all these and many more frightening events run like a rough thread through the fabric of my life. Almost as if one of the threads in the warp was from a different spool. The plus side of this is that the exciting, unusual and amazing events in my life that few others are privileged to experience make up one of the weft threads from a different spool. A brilliantly shining thread opposing and overcoming the effects of the rough one.
Is that part of the human condition? By refusing to take the easy, safe and dull middle road, we are privileged (or fated) to experience a life of extreme ups and downs? I know that given a second shot at it, I would do some things differently but probably take even more chances, venture down even more untraveled roads. I very much doubt I would be tempted to take the safer route even knowing the cost of some of the consequences.
Perhaps I have forgotten a lot of those reminders during the 8 years of peace and security I have experienced since arriving in Canada. I no longer have to fear people physically threatening my life and freedom, just those trying to do it by quietly increasing the powers of the nanny state through legislation. Of course if I lived in Kitchener, Ontario and had a 4-year-old daughter who could allegedly draw a picture of a toy gun, I would have to be afraid of the police for myself and of the school and other agents of the state for terrifying the rest of my family.
But I did not start on this philosophical road as a political rant, I have enough faith left in the rest of our judicial system to hope that the perpetrators of this violence – and it certainly seems to qualify as violence – will be severely punished and the family suitably compensated. Trouble is it is us the taxpayers who will pay for the authorities’ gross abuse of power.
The only reason I mention it is as an example that even in one of the supposedly, safest democracies in the world, bad things happen to good people. When you are the victim, the distinction between state sponsored or plain criminal, violence is irrelevant, if anything the aftermath of the former is worse because you are fighting the organisations that should be protecting you. I know what that is like.
Safe and secure as you might think you are in your comfortable life right now, it can change in an instant.
I think it was Rudyard Kipling who wrote that” If all the problems of all the people in the whole world were put in one heap and then shared out equally, we would far rather have the ones we started with”, or something similar.
No matter how bad things might seem, we do not have to look far to find someone worse off. No matter how good things may seem, we cannot be complacent, it can change in the blink of an eye.
The weekend is here, time to appreciate how lucky we are and start doing some of the things that started as goals or New Years Resolutions just 2 months ago, decayed into un-acted upon ideas and are now headed to the “would-have-been-nice-to-do/have/get” dead wishes folder.
Enjoy your life, it is the only one you’ll get, make the most of it while you can.
What are you grateful for? Leave a comment below, start a discussion.
Wishing you success in all your endeavours.