Monday, March 23, 2015

What Does Living Look Like?

Today I visited a friend who is in the final stages of a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Like the other dear friends I've had to say goodbye to too soon, she is much to young to die. It makes me wonder what sort of balance is out of skew in the Universe. How this could possibly be happening. Something feels so monumentally off when we lose people before their time.

It feels surreal and wrong.

And yet, it's the most powerful reminder for the rest of us how precious life is. 

It made me think hard about what it means to really live.

What does that look like?

On the surface, it might look like pushing boundaries and taking risks; traveling to the ends of the earth to pack your days with an endless supply of experiences.

But when I really think about what makes me feel alive, it's simply being connected to the moment. 

For me, living—really sopping up every last drip of life—is so much more about what I'm feeling than what I'm doing. I'm living when I connect with people, when I connect with nature, when I connect with a beautiful song or a blazing sunset. It's about presence and gratitude. Being grounded in an experience, rather than having a wild one.

I thought about what I would do if I knew I had only a short time to live, and that was the answer: focus on being connected to everything and every second.

I wouldn't have to race to see the countries I haven't seen. I wouldn't have to load every day with as many social interactions as possible. I would just have to plug in to the present. 

The good news is, I can do this now. I can work at this every day so that whenever my final day arrives, there will be no question that I lived.

Today, for me, living looked like blowing off work for half the day to drive to LA. It was about being present on the highway as the cloudless sky and teal spans of ocean passed by outside my window. It was about sitting at the bedside of my friend, touching her arm and telling her stories, as she winds down this life and starts the transition into the next.

It was about feeling everything that came with that situation. The overwhelming sadness mixed with the immeasurable appreciation of knowing my friend, even if it will be for far fewer days than I'd prefer. 

When you think about living your life to the fullest, what does it look like for you?


  1. Unfortunately it often takes tragedy to get refocused and gain clarity. Its one hell of a gift for your friend to give you. I'm glad you are seeing the world around you and appreciating it. I'm sorry for you friend. Keep on feeling...

  2. Last summer, we lost one of Sweets' childhood friends to cancer. She was a beautiful friend, wife, mom (to three beautiful young daughters), daughter, sister, aunt, niece, and human being. There is a giant gaping hole in this world without her. It was painfully hard watching her live our her last year while she mostly sat on the sidelines watching her daughters, because that's not the person I knew. The person I knew was right there in the middle, laughing so loud you could hear is clear across the house, making life happen. And so, for me, living life to the fullest means being right there in the middle. Not necessarily being the center of attention (so help me). But, very much what you said right here, feeling connected to the people who are right here living this very moment with me. It could be the people I hold nearest and dearest to my heart. But, it could be that complete stranger that also saw that funny thing and deserves to share a laugh. Y'know, life is to freaking short to laugh, cry, walk alone. Let's hold hands and get through all of it together!

  3. I have battled with chronic depression and learning issues all my life. And in my search for answers I have come to feel that all we really have for sure is this one single moment. In time a became aware of myself. I came to understand that I can choose, in any given moment, to make it the best I can for myself and the other(s) that I am with. This took time. But now I am accutly aware of time. And making this moment, my moment, and the moments I spend with others that best I can is all I have left. There will come a moment when I must say good by but until then I AM GOING TO BE RIGHT HERE. RIGHT NOW AND FIND THE BEAUTY, LOVE, AND UNDERSTANDING that I can enjoy and offer others. I like to say that life is a very long journey through a very short period of time.
    Make all you can better and accept what you can not change. God is love and love is a verb not a noun.