We are always getting ready to live, but never living. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

What if in all the day-dreaming and impatience for life to get started, the plotting and planning ahead, real life is passing us by? What if we are missing the joy in the simple things. None of us knows the number of our days and loss has a way of teaching us that life can be fleeting. Like a vapor.

Embrace the simple gifts of today. Smack dab in the midst of work and loving people and commitments, pause and appreciate – the sparkly day and moments for what they are. The distractedness of the cashier’s face at my market reminds me he is a real person carrying his own hopes and dreams. The text message from my mom showing her joyful listening to her music after I installed her new stereo receiver and my wife’s own joy to just sit down and relax with me all are beautiful reminders that this is real life.

I want to allow myself to feel. To admit the pain sometimes attached to loving people deeply. To lean into the fear of stepping into the unknown rather than numbing it away like I used to or cowering from all stress. To be fully aware of the tendrils of shame or comparison or unworthiness that snake their way into my mind. To notice them but not let them take root. To confess to myself the sorrow of missing my grandfathers, sketching or telling me the tales of their own journeys. To feel, to my core, intense gratitude flecked with sadness, sometimes even despair, as I prepare healthy food for my family; so many mamas cannot feed their babies today. To acknowledge both the sweet and the sour of this simple day before rushing forward into the next. This is real life.

I want to savor the sights and smells and sounds of day-to-day life. The long talk with a long-distance friend who affirms and encourages and shares a sacred piece of themself with me. The rough spots on my hands from physical efforts well spent and the light, tentative way that the day unfolds and reminds me of its gifts. I want to sit down, to rest, and smell and taste and chew my meal and the slightly bitter dark chocolate melting on my tongue instead of rapidly eating while standing and texting. I want to be nourished, not simply fed. This is my one real life. I want to shed those things that hold me back from really living today. The weight of not good enough. The comparison that steals my joy. The lie that I am broken and irreparable. The internal pressure to move faster or do more. My too high standards, my addictions, my judgments.

I want to freely offer love and compassion even if they turn around to bite me later. To share my story whether others listen or not. To simply sow what I have need of myself in this life. What I have need of today. I want to live now. Awake and aware. To breathe deeply and hug long. To linger and connect for short visit. To take joy in the simple things of this daily, ordinary, beautiful life. To rest assured that if today is my last that I have really lived and grown in my short visit I call life.

Peace and Love, Jim

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