There is a line in my favorite movie, Love Actually, where Emma Thompson comments on her brother being the prime minister and how it “puts your life in rather harsh perspective.” While her brother fought for his country today, she was making a papier machet lobster head costume for the school play. Even though today is Halloween and I could go on about the costumes we wear, the tie into the harsh perspective comes from the note our CEO put out this week saying he has throat cancer. Whoa!
He mentioned that five years ago he had melanoma, and that it had been treated at the time successfully. But now the cancer is back in his throat. This hit me like blow to the chest, as the reminder that I might easily forget, and perhaps something that most of us forget. Carpe Diem, seize the day, you can’t take it with you, live in the moment, enjoy what you do, and enjoy who you do it with!
A number of years ago, Fred Dressler, one of our programming executives retired and then contracted cancer and died within 18 months. What the heck? You work for so many years and then stop working, ready to enjoy your free days with lots of plans and they all fall by the wayside unexpectedly. I am not saying our CEO has a terminal condition because I don’t know his prognosis. But we all have a terminal condition. We are all going to die at some point, and we don’t know when and how. We all are on a race to nowhere…
Of course this makes me think of my dad, leaving very early at 61 years old. He also had melanoma that was believed be cured. He didn’t even get the chance to stop working before his number came up. He enjoyed life, and yet on his deathbed he said something to me, when we were talking about a “crazy idea” I had for buying a golf/crash house in Palm Springs with him and my brothers. He said “We should have done that.” That was from a guy with only a few days to live, with a look in his eyes telling me he was not joking. I hate to use the term regret, so I will say that in that moment my life changed. I learned in that moment that putting things off for later may not be so wise. You will not have the time later to enjoy all the moments you put off now. Celebrate now those you love and the times we have together. That’s it right there. You may have read some of my sailing stories, and they come from my times on Sweet Caroline, a sailboat named for my father, after a song he truly loved and from the memories of listening to it together. That boat is a constant reminder of seizing the day and celebrating life. That’s probably the greatest enduring lesson my father taught me, and one I am reminded of today.
I could go on and on. Every day there are a hundred things that put our life in “rather harsh perspective.” And yet we (I) so often get tied up in the day to day and moment to moment stresses that shield us from grabbing life and doing, saying, and realizing what is most important.
For me that means thanking God every day for the blessings I have, and letting those who are part of my life know that I appreciate them, I value them, and that I am glad we are on this journey together. Let’s make the most of it.