1.11.2013

Live Each Day As If You Have Another 60 Years

Pope Gregory I is my favorite pope ever.  Yes, we all loved John Paul II, but Gregory is my pope.  He wrote a wonderful book on pastoral care, one of the main premises of which is that different people need different kinds of pastoral care.  Exhorting one another in faith isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of job.  Gregory comes to mind often when someone gives advice, and I think, "boy, that's the last thing I need."  I have a beautiful friend with a tattoo that says "WORK HARDER."  When I think about how depressed I'd get if I saw that every day, I want to go curl up in bed forever.  It inspires her, though.

I was lying awake one night this week, when it occurred to me that (for me) the old saw about "live each day as if it might be your last" is total bullshit.  I talked a while ago about how I grew up learning to be prepared for death at any time.  The other side of that is that on some deep-down level, I never expect my loved ones (or maybe me, it could go either way) to live long lives.  I genuinely expect that everything could shatter any day.  I spent all of summer CPE marveling at the things that people survive, at how often people don't die.  I need to learn that maybe, Dave and I will hold hands as octogenarians.  I need to let go of the fear that if I erase a voice mail, I might be deleting the last thing he said to me.

This year, one of my goals is to try to live each day as if we've all got another 60 years.  To breathe deeply, and imagine future decades.  Those golden years might or might not come, but there's something precious, something fundamentally necessary, about the dream of them.

9 comments:

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    1. Mindy, you're a gem.

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  2. I love this image of living as if we have a future. It is amazing that people survive things, and hard for me to remember.

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    1. Margaret, there's something about the way you rephrased, "as if we have a future," that's very touching to me, and in fact gives me a little more to be turning over in my mind and heart. Thank you.

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  3. I love this post.

    I love your recognition that one size doesn't fit all. (Yesterday, reading the condolences that people on FB offered to a friend after the death of someone close to him, I thought I would puke. But then, perhaps they thought the same thing, reading mine.)

    And I love love love the idea of living as if you have -- well, in my case, maybe another 30 years. There have been so many sudden young deaths in my family that I am very accustomed to thinking in the short term, and the long term is often far too painful to contemplate. But I think you're on to something here.

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    1. Robin, I can imagine nausea at expressions of condolence!

      And even as I consider 60 more years as an expression of dreams and hope, you're right on that it's painful (and scary, for me, anyway), to contemplate.

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  4. I have celebrated many a 50th anniversary in my family. Not all made it, but I fully intend to celebrate one. As for making it another 60.... That's some wishful thinking

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    1. Stratoz, I've long found you to be an unlikely (snarky) optimist. It's both maddening and charming.

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    2. Maddening and charming... Sounds like how my students may think of me perhaps

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Unnamed sources make me crazy. Just one time, I'd like to see, instead of 'according to unnamed sources,' I'd like to see 'according to tweaky little, ill-informed, chicken-ass, wannabe.'
-Abigail Bartlett, The West Wing