Last year a close friend of mine died tragically and unexpectedly–though I suppose every death is a tragedy, anticipated or not.
He was only in his early forties, with a lovely family and a thriving business he had built from scratch after having the courage to make a major career shift more than a decade ago. In his chosen new profession he profoundly touched the lives of dozens, if not hundreds, of people. He generously and compassionately helped people at a level that’s impossible (at least for me) to explain.
What I know for certain is that he was essential to my getting through two extremely difficult periods during the past few years. In fact, he may very well have saved my life–for which I shall be eternally grateful.
In my mix of grief and gratitude two important lessons emerged.
First, and most obviously, depression is a very real and serious issue for so many people, and our tendency to look away or to minimize–or to label sufferers as “weak” or “lazy”– is not only wrong, it’s hurtful.
The second is that it’s later than we think.
The notion that things will unfold the way we want, at a time and date largely of our choosing, sits somewhere between utter delusion and misguided fantasy. The idea that I will be better able to start the important stuff tomorrow–or, better yet, maybe next week once things settle down at work–is just one of the oft-repeated lies I tell myself.
Things are often moving faster than they seem. We have to expect the unexpected. And whether we like it or not, at some point the clock stops in some way, shape or form on everyone and everything…
…the window to launch that new business
…the time to write the book we’ve been talking about for ages
…the opportunity to forgive
…the ability to shift from fear, anger and revenge to open-heartedness and compassion
…the space to tell someone what they’ve meant to you
…the chance to say “I love you.”
In so many ways it’s later than we think. And my guess is that we all have plenty of catching up to do.
Living a life of meaning and purpose in the present moment is ultimately the only choice we have.