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Dianne Harman Headshot

7,000 Lunches

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My husband and I were in Seattle recently visiting our son and daughter-in-law. My son was debating whether or not to take a position he had been offered at a large increase in salary. We were discussing it and he made the statement, "But I don't know how many lunches I have left."

The statement made no sense to me, so I asked my son what he meant by it. He told me he recently was advising a client of his about where he should put his assets and the client said, "According to statistics, I have about seven thousand lunches left." In other words, he was 60 and if he lived to the age the actuarial tables predicted, he would live for that many days. He made it very clear to my son that he wanted to enjoy those days.

I'd never thought in mortality terms as to how many lunches I have left, but like my son's client, I want to enjoy them. I don't want to have to do some of the things I did for the good of my family, society, and trying to please everyone else. Since I don't know the exact number of lunches I have left, I better pay attention and make the enjoyment of each day a priority!

I read an article a while ago that said, "If you had just three hours to live, what would you do?" With only a few hours to do what I wanted to do, I wouldn't be able to climb to the top of Mt. Everest, an unfulfilled dream of mine. No, I would have to do things that were here and now. Of course I'd call family members and tell them I loved them and there are probably a few other things I'd do in that vein. What caught my attention in the article was that it cleverly asked what things we'd do that probably aren't good for us, because we only had a few hours left, so what would it matter? Would we go out and buy a pack of cigarettes -- you remember the ones we gave up years ago? Would we opt for the biggest steak we could find and a potato with all the cholesterol clogging goodness added to it like bacon, sour cream, butter, etc? Name your poison.

Can you remember when this was a popular statement? "If you ever worked with hospice patients, the one thing you never heard was 'Wish I'd started Weight Watchers earlier'?" Lots of truth in those words.

Are you enjoying what you're doing now? If you're reading this, you're probably in the second half of your life. Are you spending time doing what you want to do? Years ago I made the decision that "life was too short to spend it stuffing mushrooms," (substitute whatever it is that you're doing that takes a lot of time and isn't very much appreciated) when I could be enjoying people I cared about or reading that great new novel I'd been waiting to get to or a gazillion other things I'd really wanted to do rather than impress guests with my ability to stuff mushrooms.

Over the years I've done a lot of entertaining, The one thing I learned after a few years is that if the food is good, the bathroom and kitchen are relatively clean, and the hostess is relaxed, that's all that matters. Truth be told, no one is going to look under the bed for dust bunnies. And if you ever find someone doing that, don't invite them back! Almost everyone is far more concerned with the impression they're making on others than if the hostess stuffed mushrooms for them.

I look back at the years and energy I spent trying to get this squatty, short body morphed into a svelte Barbie doll-like body. Never happened, but I sure spent a lot of time trying to make it happen. And what about the things I gave up in my fruitless search for bodily perfection -- a whole lot of wonderful food experiences!

There are two days that were seminal in my growth as an adult. (1) the day I decided to accept this squatty body and quite trying to look like someone I was never intended to look like in the first place; and (2) the day my husband came home from work, asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was reading a book. Yup, just sat down and read a book. Were there other things I could have been doing? Yup. Decided if that was decadent behavior, so be it. I'd be decadent!

And you, dear reader, how many lunches do you have left? And more importantly, what are you going to do with them?

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