I would say a good majority of my life I’ve woken up and done one of two things: I’ve either A) despised my existence, or B) forgot what it means to exist. Both reactions to my existence itself fail to take into account one primary, unavoidable truth: life is a gift.
It’s hard to believe life is a gift sometimes though. If I’m honest, I think it’s a curse most of the time. It seems like the world always has another sad story to tell. Thousands of people die in a monsoon in India. Hurricanes devastate an entire coast. There’s an eviction notice on the door. Mom is diagnosed with cancer.
Nonetheless, there still remains this unshakable feeling within me: the feeling that I’d rather be alive than dead. It breaks my heart to know that many people deny this feeling and make the choice of opting out. But I can’t say life hasn’t tempted me to do the same, if we’re being honest.
The problem is I know much more about existing and much less about being alive. Most days I simply exist.
I rarely live.
I’ve found that I’ve lived much of my life as a drone, moving through each day in this sort of self-automated, auto-pilot mode. It’s almost as if, on many occasions, I’m standing outside of my self watching myself go through the same motions over and over again, being dragged along the lifeless conveyor belt of existence from one place to the other.
But then I have these profound moments.
I get still and I quiet myself. I take a really deep breath (in through the nose, out through the mouth). And in these moments, God speaks:
“Life is a gift. It can be taken away from you any second. Do you want to look back on your life with regret, only to find that you went through the motions? That you simply existed? Do you want to look back only to find that you spent most of your time wallowing in self-pity, laziness, and complacency? What about all the people I put around you to love and encourage and empathize with and yet you could only see yourself? Do you really want to look back on your life, only to find out that you wasted your life rejecting its beauty?”
It’s in these moments where I wake up to this undeniable gift that is life. It’s much like the story of Walter Mitty, who finally got tired of simply existing and made the conscious decision to embark on the adventure of treasuring life. And even though I’m absolutely confident my adventure won’t involve long boarding down mountain roads and escaping volcanic eruptions, I have an adventure to live nonetheless.
We all do.
So I will choose to be thankful. I will choose to love others. I will choose to relish these moments of being alive. I will treasure this moment right here, right now.
It very well could be my last.