So, I've been thinking... I do a lot of thinking while I'm driving and I'm sure it would be better if I was concentrating on driving, but there you go. Anyway, I was thinking about the measure of a life. What makes it special and worth living?
Of course the answer to this question is vast and depends a great deal on what's important to you. These are the things that are important to me.
Take a ride in a Jeep (or another less superior convertible): You knew this was coming right? But it really is an important one. I had the privilege of driving in scenic Glacier National Park this summer. It was in August and the days were warm and filled with sun, the nights colder than I like. But driving through sun-dappled trees, listening to birds and the breeze rustle through ancient pine trees was just short of an out-of-body experience. I would describe my faith as something other than Christian, but I do believe in spirit... in connectedness... in something larger than me. And if you ever doubt that Spirit or God or Goddess exist, take a convertible ride through Glacier. You'll feel it when the sun and shadows touch your face and run their fingers through your hair.
Visit one place that makes you feel insignificant: Now, this sounds a little counter-intuitive, but it's a continuation of the theme above. Standing in a place that makes you feel insignificant gives you valuable perspective. It helps you to understand your place in the world and how miraculous your life is no matter how you think of it most days. For me a place that makes me feel insignificant could be any stretch of wilderness. A gigantic mountain, the middle of the woods, or sitting next to a wild stream. For you it may be standing at the foot of the Eiffel Tower or at the Vatican or even at Ground Zero. Find that place and just be.
Have a reliable "in case of emergency" contact: I recently started the paperwork for my very own passport, but in doing so, I realized that I didn't have anyone to name as my "in case of emergency". This was the case for a couple of reasons. First, I don't have much immediate family left and those who are, really don't know me well enough to effectively carry out my wishes. Either they will be unwilling or incapable. That sounded pretty snooty, but it's true. But then something amazing happened. I found out a few years ago that I have a 1/2 brother & a sister-in-law I didn't know about. I met them in person on my birthday which was also the memorial service for my beloved dog. They flew in to attend the service and my brother helped me plant a sturdy oak tree for the occasion. They are amazing people. And when I talked to them about my dilemma, they volunteered to be my emergency contacts! Having someone to play that role for you isn't just a matter of paperwork. It means that somewhere in the world, someone cares about one of the most fundamental needs a person can have... knowing that someone, somewhere, will notice if you were gone from the earth. No matter how independent we are, we all need this. We need someone to acknowledge that we lived, that we touched their life for good or for bad.
Achieve one big goal: Everyone deserves one big thing to be proud of. And when I say big, remember that it's a subjective term. For some people, making a friend is big. For some, selling 10 Cadillacs is big. Don't forget to take stock of what you've already accomplished because you might have already done it. If not, decide what your big thing is and go after it. If you get it done, pick something else. Life is short, live it.
Recognize a miracle: Real miracles happen around us everyday. Things that we take for granted. Most of them aren't biblical or epic, they're little things that make us happy or catch our attention. Remember that getting out of bed can be a miracle. So is the fact that your heart beats without you doing a thing to make it so. Look for miracles everyday. I will guarantee that you will find them. They are all around us in the little details of life.
Have one devoted friend: I've been lucky in this area. I've had lots of people that I could call to have fun or help me move or even cheer me up. And I hope that I have been this for others as well. Friends are important. They connect us to the world. The person that I counted on the most recently had to move to a different state. I didn't realize how much I would miss her, but it's a good thing to know it now. It means that she made a difference in my life and now I can truly appreciate her.
Have one day you can call "the best ever": Wouldn't it be nice if everyone had a day that was perfect. Like big, perfect is also subjective. Obviously, there are a lot of things that are not under our control. But the way we choose to react to them can make a world of difference. I'm not saying you should go through life with an artificial smile and pretend that nothing is getting you down, but even sad or frustrating times can be lessons. Learning what you need to and moving on is the gift. So start thinking about what your perfect day would look like. Imagine it with all your might and do this until it actually happens.
Have one epic love affair: I'm not talking about cheating. Not at all. But everyone deserves one big love, even if it's short-lived. I am not a conventional woman. I've never actually been able to picture myself married with the white picket fence. And I haven't actually had my epic love affair yet, but all good things take time. It's something I will never lose hope in, although I have to say my hope has been flickering lately. But here's the thing... it doesn't matter to me if it lasts a weekend, a summer or a lifetime. Of course I'd be lying if I said I didn't think a lifetime sounded like the best option. But really, I just want to have experienced that one connection. To meet someone who gets me and that I feel the same way about. Someone who I can talk to for hours about ideas and life and love. Someone who is passionate and kind, happy and affectionate... and maybe a little viking if you know what I mean.