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Living life in “the In-Between”

Recently, I reflected on how I’d lost more than a few long time friends in death over the past several years. Some had been battling sickness for awhile, but most of them were untimely, due to a sudden illness – and still relatively young in age. It hit home how fragile our lives really are. I wondered how many had really lived the life they wanted.

We come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. What we do in between is up to us and becomes our legacy. Today, I feel more strongly than ever, that the relatively small amount of time one has to live should be spent in as many worthwhile pursuits and ambitions as possible.

Time is really our most precious commodity and we lose some of that precious time every minute, everyday.

If you knew today was your last day to live, how would you live it? Would you choose to live it in fear? Would you live it in resentment? Would you spend it dwelling on regret for past wrongs? Wouldn’t it seem totally non-sensical to spend our last breathing day like that? We’d more likely live with a sense of urgency. We’d let go of the resentment toward others and ask their forgiveness if we failed them somehow. Then, we’d probably focus on a number of things we’d always wanted to or always enjoyed doing before our time was up.

Yet, most of us do live our lives in fear, in resentment, in regret and in other compartments that hold us back from truly living our lives to the full. Why? Often, it’s simply a matter of how we’ve been conditioned by our lives and circumstances. Humans are predictable and tend to do what others around them are doing. It makes us feel normal.

But is living the so-called “normal” life really the best way to live? It reminds me of the definition of insanity as attributed to Albert Einstein – doing the same thing over and over, and yet expecting a different outcome each time. In our insane belief in normalcy, we begin to integrate the same fears, resentments, regrets that others put upon us – with the same predicatable outcome in life. Insanity!

But realistically life doesn’t give a shit. Life moves on while we live in the past. We can’t undo what’s been done already. Yesterday is gone. If we hang on to yesterday, we’re trying to live in the past and squandering the present, and what may be for our future. Mistakes, yes I’ve made many. We all do and will continue to. Rectify them the best you can and move on. Though some will try to hold you to your past, it’s up to you to let it go.

Yes, challenges are innumerable and life is unkind if left to itself. Each of us really has three parts in our existence – birth, death and what comes in between. We have no control over the beginning of our lives and very little, if any control over the end of lives. Ahh… but the in-between part… the in-between is ours for the making.

Each day we live in the in-between is our chance to make a difference in our lives or someone else’s. It’s our choice. It’s up to us. When we’re younger, the in-between seems like it will never end. As we grow older we begin to see how close the end really is. As we see the lives of those we knew and loved come to an end, it becomes a painfully sobering reminder of our own mortality.

Long ago,it was written in the Bible that men in general would live 70 years, and if they had special strength maybe 80 years. In our culture, we generally work 30 to 35 of those years and most work up to retirement age, which is now edging up to 70. The math here isn’t very encouraging is it? Most of us won’t have a lot of free time on or hands. Life as lived in the status quo is very short.

Maybe if we have a hope of a better life ahead – an afterlife of some sort, it provides us a measure of comfort as we see the days pass. But we’re living NOW and have a choice of how we want to spend our time. Be present, be responsible, live life with a sense of urgency. We’re living in the in-between now – use life up before it uses you up.

© Marc Townsend

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