A few days ago, I had a profound experience…
Due to sickness and old age, my best mate’s parents had recently vacated their home of more than thirty years on the Somerset/Dorset border. We went down there to oversee the house clearance and bring back all the things they wanted to keep.
On the way down, I learned that this elderly couple had spent a lot of their lives worrying about the future. The future of their savings that were steadily growing in the unstable banking system, the future of the world they lived in and how much it was changing beyond recognition, and the future of their own health – the primary motivation for their diligent saving.
We agreed that whilst it is good to do your best to make provision for the future, old age and possible eventualities – it doesn’t justify not living.
When I say ‘not living’ I don’t mean literally of course. I simply mean that to spend one’s life constantly planning for the inevitable end of your life is no way to live at all.
By the time we arrived at the house, I was intrigued about the prospect of what I would see. In many ways, there was nothing surprising at all. Some furniture needed taking out, paintings, family photographs, lots of books, and the usual array of stuff that inevitably accumulates in a house where the couple concerned have lived for a long time.
It was in the smaller things that got me thinking more and more about the reality of what was actually taking place. Items of food in the fridge/freezer, the wifi was still on, bathroom towels hanging on the rail.
It was as if this dear old couple had been living their lives day by day, doing everything a whole lot slower no doubt, sitting in their garden, enjoying the amazing view, watching TV and eating their daily portions when suddenly…it had all stopped.
Now, their lives look very different. All the money they have saved will almost certainly be consumed by a wealthy nursing home owner, and the things they avoided doing because of the choice to save everything they had will obviously never be done.
At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, we will all be accountable for what we have done, as well as what we have not done. It’s not about how many holidays you’ve enjoyed, or how many cars you’ve driven, or how many houses you’ve owned.
We all know this deep down in the recesses of our hearts and yet so many of us live as if this is the only thing that counts.
It is about how well you lived. Did you truly love those closest to you? Did you take a few risks that were worth the calculation?
Or did you stay in the harbour, even when everything within you said, ‘You are built for far more than this?’
Did you dare to love in the hope that you would be loved in return? Or did you play safe, surrounding your heart with clauses designed to protect but in the end, only served to prohibit the one thing you yearned for?
So choose life and do it to the very best of your ability. Be sensible of course, but not so risk averse that your life becomes one, very slow, dress rehearsal for death.