When I was first told that I could expect my life to be shorter than I had anticipated, my reaction was to think about how I could cram in all the things I still wanted to do with my life - before it was too late. Now, five years on, I have come to realise that this 'cram in as much as possible' attitude is quite wrong. Life is much too short to rush through it.
It's a quality versus quantity thing; yes, I can cram all this stuff in, but does that make my remaining years better? Short answer; "no". Slightly longer answer, "no, it just makes them busier". Life really is too short to rush - even without a deadline. Rushing causes us to miss so much of what is happening; we need to pause, mid-stride, to feel the moment, to enjoy the act of moving and sense the wonder of being alive. And, yes, to us 'busy doing stuff' people, that is totally counter-intuitive.
Last evening I dawdled on the way home from the office. There was no other traffic, the sun was shining and the beauty of the countryside that I pass through several times a week was calling for my attention. I cruised the road between the trees, enjoying the dappled sunlight, looked up at the ever-changing parade of lumpy green hills on my right and the endless vistas across the green of the Canterbury plains on my left. I rode the switchback road as though it were a fairground rollercoaster experienced in slow-motion. I thought it wonderful, I thought it beautiful, for truly it was both of those things, and I wondered at the good fortune that had brought me here and has allowed me to call this place 'home' for over twenty years.
This morning, I met an elderly, one-eyed lady. She spoke about her long-dead husband, and how she worked the farm on her own when he had gone. She told me about the kingfisher that lived up the track and the birds that come to her garden when she is hanging out her washing. She told me how she speaks to them and how she is sure that they have started to mimic her voice. "I'm probably a bit daft", she said. That's when I realised that I was speaking with someone who had learned to live in the 'in between' spaces of life. She was HAPPY in a way that many of us seek and fail to find.
These gems of happiness are found in the in-between, mid-stride, spaces. They are hidden beneath the surface, they are the things we miss when we are in a hurry. Life is much too short to rush; dawdle some, discover some of the 'happy' bits of life.