Being Grateful and Remembering that Life Goes by in a Flash of Light

As 2017 begins we all hear the usual talk of New Year’s Resolutions, the desire to make improvements in one’s life, all of which is perfectly fine of course. If you are genuinely unhappy with a certain aspect (or aspects) of your life, then by all means it’s appropriate to take steps to make changes that would lead to more satisfying results. With that said, there is a hazard to being so focused on achieving something down the road that we fail to live our lives as fully we can within the context of the only time that really matters – NOW. And, the more we remain centered on getting someplace the greater the likelihood that we fail to truly appreciate all the good things we already have in our lives.

Yes, we’ve all heard it, “be grateful,” but how many of us actually take the time to acknowledge all of our blessings on a daily basis? The answer is probably not very many. What makes it even more challenging is a media (news & advertising both) that constantly focuses on “what’s missing” in life, selling the future all the time to keep the wheels of economic growth rolling forward. From my own life experience I can attest to spending way too much time thinking that getting someplace else was the key to happiness as opposed to finding the happiness within any given moment.

Alas, I literally spent decades in that mindset and missed out on so much of life. Now at the ripe old age of 60 I can relate even more directly to what Pink Floyd meant when they wrote this line in their hit song “Time”:

“And then one day you’ll find 10 years have got behind you.”

Yes, indeed, if one lives life always looking forward I can speak from personal experience that an entire decade (or more) can just fly by without you even being aware of it, and in the process much of day to day life winds up being squandered.

For anyone reading this post who may be in their 20s, 30s and even 40s, it’s possible that you might consider that the age of 60 is “old,” and it’s likely that you may not even be able to relate to being such a lofty age. I certainly felt that way when living in those age groups, but I can assure you of this, if you are fortunate enough to make it to that age you will realize firsthand that while your body has aged the same basic essence that was “you” at 20, 30, and 40 remains the same. Sure, you would have evolved as a person and hopefully changed for the better, but all those versions of you still exist within the context of your mind. And you will likely find yourself wondering someday, “Where in the heck did all that time go?”

For this reason, it’s so important each day to have a healthy respect for life itself and not sleepwalk through it, looking forward to some future event or circumstances to finally bring the happiness that always seems to be just around the corner. Life is NOW, period. So live it fully, graciously accept the good and the bad each day and make your best effort to remind yourself to remain conscious moment-to-moment of what you are doing and thinking throughout the day. In everything you do give all of your focus to what is happening in that moment, like savoring every sip of your favorite beverage and every bite of the foods you love. Do your very best not to get distracted by things that “in the great design of life are so pitifully small” as the musical artist Todd Rundgren once wrote.

In closing, consider this thought-provoking passage from the late Fr. Anthony DeMello’s book Awareness:

“Visit a graveyard. It’s an enormously purifying and beautiful experience. You look at this name and you say, “Gee, he lived so many years ago, two centuries ago; he must have had all the problems that I have, must have had lots of sleepless nights.” How crazy, we live for such a short time. An Italian poet said, “We live in a flash of light; evening comes, and it’s night forever.” It’s only a flash and we waste it. We waste it with our anxiety, our worries, our concerns, our burdens.”

Bye for now.

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