“Life begins when a person first realizes how soon it will end.”
I’ve Been Thinking. . . a lot lately about living.
Remember Looney Tunes? Mel Blanc was the voice behind all the cartoon characters. At the end of every Looney Tune Production Porky Pig would pop up with this send off, “That’s all folks!” Porky’s message was, “The show is over. It’s time to go home.”
When Mel Blanc died, guess what his family put on his tombstone?
“That’s all folks!”
When life is over on this earth, life on this earth is over.
There are three questions I frequently ask myself as a reminder not to say ‘that’s all folks,’ until it’s over.
Question One. Am I living every minute to fullest?
“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it,” said Diane Ackerman. “I want to have lived the width of it as well.”
Life is smattered with regrets of the past and fear of the future. But the thing that stymies me the most is my periodic failure to follow through on good intentions.
I fully intend to live every minute of every day to the fullest. Sometimes it just doesn’t turn out that way and I walk around looking like the picture on my driver’s license. I feel a bit like the lady who was out for a walk one morning when she noticed a large tent being erected on the edge of town. Asking one of the workers the purpose of the tent, she learned that a revival meeting was being held there that night.
She made her way into the tent that evening and found a seat about twelve rows back, right on the aisle. She was impressed with the inspirational music, contemporary worship and high spirited preaching. At the end of the service she responded to an alter call and made her way to the front and shouted, “Fill me Lord, Fill me.”
Those who knew her gossiping, backbiting and negative lifestyle were impressed with the change in her behavior. However, within a few weeks she was right back to her old ways.
The next summer, the revival came back to town and she immediately made plans to attend. At the end of the service, moved by the power of the evening, she made her way to the front and repeated her “Fill Me Lord!” declaration. She assured her friends that this time they would see permanent change. Within a short period she fell into her old behavior...even worse. Her closest friends described her behavior as that of one being weaned on dill pickles - sour and bitter.
The scene repeated itself the third year. Same event, same tent, same evangelist, same woman, and same response: “Fill me Lord, Fill me.” Then she heard a coworker behind her whisper, “Please don’t do it Lord. . . she leaks.”
That’s a great illustration about human nature. We all tend to ‘leak a bit.’ The prescription for living every minute to the fullest involves a daily renewal to fulfilling our good intentions and minimizing the leakage.
Question Two. Am I striving to become all I can be?
Shortly before his death, George Bernard Shaw was approached by a reporter who had followed his life and achievements. “Mr. Shaw,” he said, “you have known and associated with a variety of famous people, royalty, artists, dignitaries, world renowned authors and educators. If you could live your life over again and you could be anybody you’ve known, or any person from history, who would you choose to be?”
“I would choose,” replied Shaw, “to be the man George Bernard Shaw could have been, but never was.”
If you want to ignite that compelling desire to live life to the fullest, strive to become all you can be. We are all created with an equal ability to become unequal. It’s called potential. Potential is maximized by dedicating yourself to becoming everything you are intended to be.
I am convinced we can change the quality of our world and the world around us by becoming a little bit better today than we were yesterday, and stretching ourselves tomorrow beyond where we are today. However, I’m not naïve. I’m well aware of the number of people who want to remain as they are.
They are the people who are only happy when they are unhappy. They only have something to say when they can complain, and most of them only feel good when they feel bad. The world is full of people blaming the unevenness of the floor for their inability to dance. They are unwilling to accept responsibility for advancing their life.
Abraham Maslow said, “If you settle for less than you can be, you will be unhappy for the rest of your life.”
I’m personally not interested in unhappiness or mediocrity so will continue to ask the question: “Am I striving to become all I can be?”
Question three. Is life an adventure?
Take it from someone who lost her sight and hearing when she was nineteen months old. She became a wild rebellious, uncontrollable teenager who, under the guidance of a persistent and loving teacher, learned how to read and write. She attended Radcliffe University and studied French as well as Greek, learned how to do term papers on her Braille typewriter and graduated to become a promoter of peace and a lobbyist for many causes. Living in a world of silence and darkness, Helen Keller declared, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
I know there are problems, challenges, adversity and obstacles that rear their ugly heads, but life is not bad. Life is life! It includes the good as well as the bad.
Life isn’t easy. It was never meant to be. O. Henry said, “Life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.” It takes a bit of grit and determination to face the sniffles head on, grasp them around the neck, and use them to create the adventure.
There are so many people who have given up and are just trying to get through each day (no adventure here). We need to get tough on ourselves and life will be easier on us. There is simply no reason for existing in a lifeless, boring, unfulfilled life. Let life teach you.
Ask yourself: “What will I take away from the experiences I had today? What have I invested in today that will make a difference in my life and those around me? Am I satisfied with marching in place or am I willing to pull up my boot straps, dig in my heels and take personal responsibility for the impact of life on me and the impact I have on life?
“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”