"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a Ride!"' -- Hunter S. Thompson
One of my most vivid memories as a kid growing up in the 1950s pertains to the sofa in the family room of our home. The reason I remember this particular sofa so well is that my Mom covered it with a custom fitted, clear piece of vinyl plastic like so many in that era. In the summertime, whenever I sat on the sofa in shorts and no shirt I would perspire profusely... and then my skin would stick to the plastic as if it was glued there. It was torture each time I would move or get up from the sofa. My mom's logic was that it was an expensive sofa so she was preserving it for greater longevity and enjoyment somewhere down the road and for years to come. Longevity maybe. Enjoyment... umm, not so much. I don't know where that sofa eventually ended up but I am quite sure some of my hide is still firmly adhered to it.
My sofa experience serves as a perfect metaphor for how many of us live our lives. Perhaps it's just human nature to put off fully enjoying the moment and whatever it entails until we arrive at that etheric place called "somewhere down the road" where and when the time will be more appropriate to enjoy the experience. I am not talking about spending money we don't have or doing perilous and unintelligent things with our possessions and our bodies; I am talking about living in the richness that each day offers in a manner that allows us to experience the blessing of being alive today rather than postponing it until further notice somewhere down the road. The reality check for me is this: The older I grow the more I know this moment is as good as it gets because it's the only moment I have, so why not live in it as deeply and richly as I can. While this topic is not just about the wisdom with which we use our financial resources, I've known more than one person who postponed enjoying the fruits of their labor, squirreling away every penny they earned, saving it for a rainy day. This is not an indictment of saving wisely, it's an indictment of saving fearfully in a manner that robs us of what joy the moment might bring if we only allow ourselves to be open to it.
Recently, I saw a 40-foot motorhome with a fancy boat in tow being driven down the freeway and it had a bumper sticker on it which said, "We are spending our kids inheritance NOW and enjoying every dime of it!" As I drove by I noticed that the driver was not an elderly man who had "paid his dues" (which I expected to see), but a much younger man than me. I thought to myself, why not -- you have earned it. If you can afford it, you should enjoy it while you have the opportunity to. At first this mindset can appear self-serving and perhaps a bit stingy but, taken in proper context, it is not that at all; it's about being wise enough to know what you are worthy of and embracing it while you can. For some it may be about no longer postponing the motorhome experience or taking the trip of a lifetime until "someday" arrives. For others it may be about no longer postponing joining that hiking club, planting that garden, or enrolling in that long-desired art, dance, fitness, or computer class until such time when it is more convenient or "practical." Seldom does that time ever show up.
From a spiritual perspective, we know that life is eternal, and that is a profoundly important thing to remember. However, equally important, from a human perspective, we know we exist on a timeline and, therefore, the human life we've been given has an expiration date. In other words, the life you have been given is a gift meant to be fully used before you leave the planet rather than squandered by living small -- in short, don't return to your Maker less than fully "used up." Metaphorically speaking, there is no worse feeling than paying for a full day pass at Disneyland and then leaving before you get to all the rides. You have already paid the admission price for the ride called life, so be sure to get your money's worth before you leave the park. Up until this moment, what might you have been postponing until you arrive at that etheric destination called "somewhere down the road"? Perhaps now is the time to stop thinking about it and do something about it. Of course, that will always be the case, because now is all there is and now is all you have. How are you spending your "now"?
At the end of your journey on this planet, whenever that day comes, may you be able to say, "Wow! What a ride!"
P.S. A special note to my Facebook friends: This past week I switched my Facebook page to a "professional" page and would greatly appreciate it if you would stop by and "Like" it. It will help boost the number of people I am reaching with my daily post's which, by the way, are new and different from this weekly HuffPost blog. My Facebook posts are short and easy to read; they are intended to help you start out each day with an energized, grounded and focused perspective of your life. Thank you!
For more by Dennis Merritt Jones, click here.
For more on mindful living, click here.
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