Yes….I have that on my list of things to do.
I was watching the opening ceremonies of the NASCAR race at Talladega Speedway this past weekend, and what caught my attention were the drivers standing next to their cars prior to the race. Some of them were cradling small children in their arms…their wives looking on. Some of them were laughing and joking with their pit crew members, or television announcers. While there was certainly tension in the air…there was also an expectation that, at the end of the race, everyone was going to still be alive. We humans tend to think that simply because things worked out in our favor previously, that it will happen that way again.
Sadly, we know that is not always the case. My son was good friends with Dan Wheldon, the Indy car driver who was killed in a race in Las Vegas several years ago. Dan had a wife and two children at the time of his death. I have seen plenty of races, and because of my son’s friendship with Dan, I got a glimpse into what goes through the mind of a driver and his loved ones prior to a race. I watched as Susie Wheldon sat talking to us, and yet the whole time she played with her necklace and her hair…her mind off somewhere else as she contemplated that her husband was going to be travelling at 200 MPH with 25 other drivers for a couple of hours.
As evidenced by the recent events in Boston, we are reminded that we ALL are hanging on by a thread. Our lives can change on a dime. The question then becomes…what do we do with that knowledge? Do we shrink in fear of the unknown? Do we adopt a fatalistic attitude…stating, “What is the use, it will all be taken away anyway?”
Perhaps we should model our lives after the race car drivers. They know the racetrack is a dangerous place, yet they treat it with respect…knowing that a healthy fear of danger is a good thing. Out of that fear comes a deep appreciation for everything around them…for they know it can be taken in an instant.
How much better would our lives be if we stopped taking for granted the rest of today, and tomorrow? How much better would we treat the people we love if we if we thought this could be our last day on Earth? How many unimportant things would we scratch off our to-do list? All those things we thought we HAD to accomplish in order to have a purposeful day would simply vanish. We would look at the sky and the trees, the sand and the ocean in a whole new light. Our spouse, who moments before, we found fault with over something meaningless; we would want to spend our precious uninterrupted time with.
How about our children? We would put down the computer, we would quit shuffling through paperwork and we go outside with them, we would get down on the floor and play blocks with them, we would have them climb in our laps…and then we would do something totally foreign…we’d reach for the remote and turn the TV off, and just sit and hold them in our arms…totally lost in our love for them.
We should not fear death. Those with faith believe that death brings about a new beginning. Yet, acknowledging death’s reality can keep us grounded as to what is really important in life.
I will leave you with this…
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did.” Mark Twain