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Life Is Fragile: Make Time for What Matters and Let Go of What Doesn’t

Jun 11, 2024 - 09:18
Jun 11, 2024 - 09:18
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“Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. Just be.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I lost one of my very best friends when we were both just twenty-nine years old. In the time since, I’ve thought about him on most days.

Thinking about him sometimes makes me well up and feel sad. Sometimes it makes me think about the hole him not being here has left. Selfishly, perhaps, I think about how much I miss him.

Sometimes I laugh aloud at the thought of a funny moment we shared, or a personal trait he had. I often draw inspiration from the zest for life he had, his drive to succeed.

Although he died at a relatively early age we had been firm friends since we were twelve when, realizing he lived on my street, I walked up to him in class and introduced myself and we started to walk to and from school together.

That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. As kids, we spent the evenings hitting tennis balls until it got dark or listening to music and talking about girls. As we grew, we shared lots of firsts together—first holidays away without parents, first serious girlfriends, first homes, first relationship heartbreaks. In his case, him becoming a father.

We celebrated, we laughed, we cried, we got into mischief, we supported each other. We did all the things really close friends do for each other over the course of many years.

Brad had a zest for life. Always the first up on the dance floor at a party. Always ready with a funny anecdote or story. He had a genuineness that most people warmed to. I was, and am, lucky to call him my friend.

Sometimes I think how unfair it is that was cut short so early, even though I am aware that cancer is no respecter of age or what type of person you are.

Most often, though, thinking about him now brings a clarity and peace to my thoughts. Problems I had been focused on melt away. I gain a fresh perspective because I become acutely aware of how precious this life is.

The Fragility of Life

We all lose people we’re close to if we stick around long enough ourselves. This is an inconvenient truth of life. There is a fragility to it.

There are no guarantees. No order or set amount of time our loved ones will be there for us. No promise that how we feel, and what we can do today, will be how we feel and what we can do tomorrow. No promise that the health and relative wealth we enjoy today will be with us in the morning.

Facing up to the fragility of life can be scary. It can also be empowering. It can help us hold onto a perspective that supports us living a life rich with positive experiences. It can leave us with a conviction to make the most of our days.

Applying Focus to Our Days

One of the great ironies of our lives is that so many of us choose to stay busy, but then we complain that we don’t have time for our passion projects and goals. We put things off until tomorrow, as if we have unlimited time to make our dreams happen.

The book we promised to write.

The new skill we put off another year to learn.

The dream trip we promised ourselves and our family for the last five years.

We all do it, too much of the time.

When we view life through the lens of having a finite amount of time, we are more likely to make better use of that time.

Gratitude for the Way Things Are

While striving for new goals is to be admired, we also need to learn to enjoy the present moment. To make time to enjoy our successes, small and big, and celebrate the way things are.

Traveling has become a passion for me, mostly because I married someone that has the travel bug who has opened up the world to me, literally. I get to travel more than most—it’s a priority in our lives. Dream trips have become a reality for me. However, I don’t take this for granted.

Every time I travel and visit somewhere new for the very first time, I’ll take a moment to pause and reflect on how lucky I am to experience this new adventure. I pause to think about the friend I lost, and others that are not so lucky. I try to embrace this feeling of gratitude fully. It helps me experience this new place on a deeper level.

I try to hold onto this feeling and let it spill over into other areas of my life. When I gain some perspective, I realize that many of my problems are fairly minor.

My train is running late, and when it turns up it’s packed.

The coffee machine has broken, and I can’t get my regular latte from my favorite café on the commute into work.

What do all of the above ‘problems’ have in common? They are, of course, first world problems. There are so many people in the world worse off than I am—people that endure unimaginable hardships on a daily basis, just trying to live their lives.

I try to remember this so I don’t overlook the precious gifts I already have in my life, and so I don’t complain about “how tough I have it,” when really, I’m only dealing with minor annoyances and inconveniences.

I’m not always successful of course. I still get in my own way more often than I should, as we all do from time to time. I’m a work in progress, but practicing gratitude has helped me keep perspective.

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Jennifer Winget As a passionate news reporter, I am fueled by an insatiable curiosity and an unwavering commitment to truth. With a keen eye for detail and a relentless pursuit of stories, I strive to deliver timely and accurate information that empowers and engages readers.