My husband has developed a terrible habit. I don’t know what to do about it, maybe hypnosis, or aversion therapy? He has started (sigh) listening to country music. He’s even purchased country songs for his iPod. It’s really getting scary.
One of these songs is a eye-watering kind of thing called “Live Like You’re Dying”. The basic idea is that the narrator has a close call with death and then goes skydiving, climbing mountains, riding bulls and all the other things that he doesn’t want to miss out on. He urges the listener to (I bet you can guess…) live like you’re dying.
And everybody’s seen the movie The Bucket List, in which Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman have cancer, and set out on an adventure to do everything on their “bucket list” – the list of things to do before they kick the bucket.
My recent experience with cancer was definitely a life-shaking experience. I sure look at life differently, and realize that I do indeed want to get the most out of it, and not waste what I’ve been given. As the saying goes, life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you want, but you can only spend it once.
(Warning – self-pity alert) I don’t want to climb mountains or go sky diving. And I sure don’t want to drink Kopi Luwak. But I have to make a living. I don’t have the ability to live like I’m dying. I can’t do the simple things I want most – to spend more time with my kids and grandkids, parents and siblings. Travel more. Spend more time enjoying life with my husband.
So here’s the thing. We all die sometime and we don’t know when. Cherishing every day should be a way of life and a way of thinking, but sometimes we just get caught up in the everyday and forget. So when something shakes us up, we think, oh – I need to change how I’m living. I need to squeeze the most out of life.
And we should. I should. But I’m no more entitled than anyone else, just because I had cancer. The other day I sat in a group of five people, and as we talked we discovered that three of us had survived cancer. Three of five. So I can’t whine and be depressed because I have to work, and don’t have enough money to travel and be with my family, or go on vacations with my husband. Because yes, I could have died, and I might get cancer again, and I could die. But I might get hit by a bus, or I might live to age 90. And someone perfectly healthy might get hit by that bus or have an aneurysm. We all die. I’m not special.
So I’ll live like I’m dying to the best of my ability, here and now, which is all I have. I’ll love with all my heart, and give as much as I can, and take as much as I can from each situation. And get home as often as possible to be with my kids and grandkids, parents and siblings.
Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Philippians 4:11-13 msg