“See you later”. Millions of us say it as we go about our daily lives.
“Enjoy your workout” is so ordinary that, when Sheryl Sandberg said it to her husband before his sudden death, she couldn’t have imagined that she wouldn’t see him alive again.
“Have a great time” we say to family members as they leave the cruise ship on one of the regular excursions by plane for a flight over Alaska. Last week, the plane crashed and we never saw them again.
A beach vacation in Tunis? A movie at the cineplex? A visit to your children on the college campus? These are are ordinary events of everyday life.
We expect to return, to resume the ordinary daily activities we take for granted. We rarely think that we may not see these people we love again. That there’s always time to tell people we love them.
Last week was an object lesson in not waiting to say”I love you” as random events took over the lives of millions of people. Some we know; others we don’t know. Terrorists, malfunctioning engines, unforeseen health issues, a deranged teenager with a gun – and the myriad of things that happen even when they’re not supposed to show us how little control we have over our life. As John Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”.
“See you later.” Maybe…
As I write this, two astronauts of the six man crew on the International Space Station are outside the safety of their spacecraft, replacing a malfunctioning pump that’s part of the station’s cooling system. This is the real thing, in real time, not a Hollywood movie. The space station is traveling 17,227 miles per hour, completing over 15 orbits around the earth daily.
While they work to repair their craft at 250 miles above the earth, down below, millions of shoppers are orbiting parking lots at malls, racing against the clock to have gifts ready by Christmas. The pressure and frenzy that surrounds the holiday is a marketing marvel, perpetuated generation after generation, by retailers whose annual profits depend on those minions believing that gift wrapped stuff, delivered on time, is an act of love.
No matter what their spiritual beliefs were before they launched into space, the astronauts experience a transformation upon seeing Earth from that vantage point. They use words like awe, wonder, vastness, spirit, humility, infinity to describe their recognition that we are a tiny, fragile blue dot in a vast sea of black.
I can’t imagine anyone who relates to their experience feeling pressure to beat the Christmas deadline.
What the astronauts saw: http://vimeo.com/55073825. Share their awe and share it with your children. What an awesome gift that would be.
Psychiatrists have long equated the reluctance to write a will, prepare an advance directive or estate plan, with fear of dying.
Who wants to think about planning for death? We have to confront our mortality. No more illusions that it won’t happen to us. We have to face giving up our possessions and power. We have to deal with uncomfortable subjects like aging, illness, death, inheritance and a host of other things we’ve managed to avoid thinking about.
Having the ‘money conversation’ is rarely ‘just about money’. It’s also about family dynamics, mistakes, regrets, guilt, and a host of other issues. Children feel morbid, greedy and intrusive asking their parents questions about money and death. The parents don’t want to start conversations about ‘touchy’ subjects either. The result – people procrastinate, hoping for the best. Hope is not a strategy. It’s a procrastination tool and most often, it doesn’t work.
Click the buy the book button:
Check out the guide for opening the conversations that matter between parents and children.Follow the check lists for what parents need to put in place so children aren’t burdened with a financial and legal mess after parents die.
It’s truly an act of love for parents to get their affairs in order.
The poetry of life often lives in the daily rituals, the ordinary activities we often do mindlessly without appreciating how lucky we are to be doing them. Not me, not ever again.
One of my favorite ordinary things is making coffee in the morning. Grinding and inhaling the aroma of the beans, filling the coffee maker with water, emptying the ground beans into the filter, and pushing the brew button. How much more ordinary can you get?
Ever since my husband died suddenly in an accident years ago, I’ve been aware that ordinary events can turn extraordinary in a second. The Boston bombings, 9/11, a plane or car crash, a fatal heart attack, a drive by shooting or the diagnosis of a terminal illness. These sudden events, woven into the tapestry of daily life, are reminders that the ordinary is a gift.
One of my favorite poets celebrates the ordinary. Jane Kenyon, who died of leukemia at the age of forty-seven, understood the importance of celebrating the dailiness of life.
I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.