07/18/2012 10:30 am ET Updated Sep 17, 2012

Have You Treasured Your Life Today?

Having recently entered my eighth decade of life, I am increasingly aware of how precious it is each and every day. And I am acutely aware that, as far as my time spent on this earthly plane, there are far fewer days ahead of me than those already behind.

This topic reminds me of a song John Denver recorded in the 1970s. It always puts a lump in my throat and a tear in my eyes, for it cuts right to the core of the major dilemma that confronts every human being: our certain mortality.


Today while the blossom still clings to the vine
I'll taste your strawberries I'll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joy that is mine, Today.

I'll be a dandy and I'll be a rover
You'll know who I am by the songs that I sing
I'll feast at your table I'll sleep in your clover
Who cares what the morrow will bring.

I can't be contented with yesterday's glory
I can't live on promises winter to spring
Today is my moment and now is my story
I'll laugh and I'll cry and I'll sing.

Today while the blossom still clings to the vine
I'll taste your strawberries I'll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joy that is mine, Today.

Here's the single certainty every human being has to come to terms with. We each have a life. And every life has an expiration date. But unlike so many of the products we buy, our expiration date does not come stamped on our foreheads. The human conundrum is living with the knowledge that our expiration date will surely come to pass, yet we do not know when we'll arrive at the appointed hour.

While we're here, we craft a life as best as we can. We set out on the path as children, eager and curious, filled with wonder and awe, hungry for life and learning. Sooner or later we'll fall down, but we'll get back up and keep going. We might fall down a thousand times, but we'll get up a thousand and one. We'll scrape our knees and we'll scrape our hearts. We suffer wounds that heal and others that might remain for a lifetime and those wounds will turn out to be our greatest teachers.

And someday, we'll get to that date, stamped on our souls, that instructs this life of ours that it's time to move on from this plane. These physical bodies will no longer be needed, and we'll cast them aside for whatever is next. We'll fall down one last time, and this time the body will stay and eventually decay. And the soul? Well, while I know this is a subject for which there is no known truth, I choose to believe that the soul lives on.

Those near and dear to us will feel our absence, and we trust that after we're gone, we will remain in their hearts just as those who have passed on from our lives remain in our own. And so it goes on this human journey. People come and people go from our lives. We're touched by their presence and we're deeply moved by their leaving.

All this was brought home to me this past week when I opened an email that delivered the news of someone's passing. This was someone near and dear to the regular readers of this blog, a man who brought something special and precious to us nearly every week here at this place we call the Wisdom Well.

I'm speaking of our dear resident poet, Rolf, who went by the screen name Norge, who gifted us with his writing and inspired many readers to engage their own creative expression through poetry.

An email from Rolf's wife, Arnhild, informed me of Rolf's passing on June 11, from complications due to cancer. That she took the time to write to me, a total stranger to her, speaks volumes about how much Rolf cared about this community and the connections he created here.

Our beloved Rolf was a true poet. Like the line in the song "Today," we knew who he was by the songs that he sang. We knew who he was by the poems that he wrote.

Here is the last poem Rolf shared here, written as a tribute to a close friend of his who had recently passed away. Ironically, it speaks to the very topic of this post, but then Rolf always was attuned to the themes we engaged here.

You Were Here On Planet Earth

And having found the hearts' path
having been true to ones' life work
to go slowly, to be awake, conscious
to the griefs of the grieving
and not to be afraid of the laughter
and the cinically bitter
still searching for their souls

to go forward, to prioritize values
of Life for the insects, birds, deer
to the humans, often lost in the chaos
of owing their time to others, slavery re-named

and the binding chains of the modern
8 to 4 jobs, requirements of social status
and to be free to follow the souls' calling
or to work within the confines of social chains

and excepting the limits, the fullfilling
of the hearts' knowing, the souls' blossoming
reflecting back with the knowing

one has done ones' best, forget the rest
and lives have been saved, pain relieved

and the world is a finer place
for you were here, compassion,
kindness, gentleness and understanding

were your tools of goodness
during your time on earth.

your return will be needed in the coming centuries.

Rolf KrogsætherC.2012

A letter to Rolf:

Dearest Rolf,

You wrote your own tribute, for one can find no finer words to describe who you were than the ones you've written here in honor of your friend. We echo your own words in saying, "The world was a finer place because you were here. Compassion, kindness, gentleness and understanding were your tools of goodness during your time here on this earth. And we will surely need the return of one the likes of you in the coming centuries."

Our deepest blessings to you, dear Rolf, as you journey on to new realms. Your poetry shall remain with us as the imprint of your soul, left behind as a light to guide others in discovering their own inner truths. We are all graced by having met you in this place and having shared a piece of the journey together. We shall miss you dearly. Godspeed, dear friend.

Those of you who come to the Well each week must know how precious you were to Rolf, who shared these posts with his wife and community of friends in Norway, where he lived. Your feedback meant much to him, and his heart was gladdened that his gift meant much to you. Much of Rolf's poetry was written directly to this post, inspired by our discussions here.

This is the stuff of which a life well lived is made, these human connections, no matter how far the distance between hearts. The heart knows no such boundaries. And so it is that our hearts were touched by, even as we touched the hearts of, Rolf and his Norwegian community. One never knows where the drops of human love, kindness and compassion will fall.

Our "job," as humans, is to keep opening ourselves to the infinite possibilities for grace and beauty, joy, love and abundance that await us at every turn of the dial in every single day. We can focus on the problems and be consumed with what's wrong with the world. Or we can remember the words of our beloved Rolf and treasure this moment and the opportunities that await our embrace.

I have sent a private message to Arnhild. If any of you would like to leave a message for her, or a tribute to Rolf, please do so in the comment section and I'll make sure she gets a link to this post so she can read them. She will be thrilled to hear from you.

Lastly, I leave you with an excerpt from one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver: When Death Comes.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened

or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Your life is waiting for you to embrace your own magnificence. Live it well this day.

Blessings on the path.

For personal contact, reach me at And come pay a visit to my personal blog and web site Rx For The Soul.

Blessings on the path,


For more by Dr. Judith Rich, click here.

For more on mindful living, click here.