My Uncle Ernie was the first grown-up I ever met who was a dreamer. His child-like sense of wonder shifted reality’s boundaries, and intimated that the magic of imagination need not dissipate with age. Uncle Ernie had the greatest, most sonorous voice and a wonderful, honest laugh. He wasn’t a parent, which probably explains why he was also the first grown-up to ever let me drink a beverage somewhere other than the kitchen. I thought that was unbelievably cool, not only because it’s convenient to have a cold glass of milk when you’re reading, but also because it made me feel grown up. I wasn’t, though, and in one of my innumerable fits of childhood clumsiness, I upended the glass. Instead of being angry that I’d made a mess, Uncle Ernie got me another and told me stuff like that happens to everyone. He understood my nature: not just the clumsiness, but the fact that I, too, was destined to be a dreamer.
Aaron was a friend of mine. He was always the guy that made me smile at work; if you met him, I’m sure he’d make you smile, too. He was very ill, but Aaron never let the harshness of reality – the incalculable unfairness – temper his joy of living.
Last year, within months of one another, Uncle Ernie and Aaron passed beyond this realm.
I was ill recently. Three AM on a Saturday, curled up in a little ball on the bathroom floor, in possibly the worst pain of my life, it occurred to me that I could die. Not someday: right then. I thought of Mr. Aniko, my sister, my parents, my nephews. I thought of my writing. I thought of how I would miss all of that, and how much would be left unfinished. My sickness forced me to acknowledge, in a deep and unquestioning way, that there is no placating ritual that assures longevity. I can’t know what is going to happen, but I do have a choice. I can choose to mark out the days of my life counting down, as if life were a sentence to be served. Or I could choose spend my time in in grateful pursuit of joy. In other words, I can live now, or hope that I’ll make it to a moment that might never come.
On a whiteboard in my kitchen, I used to track weeks until my projected retirement. I have replaced the countdown with my new mantra: Today Is The Adventure. Life isn’t some magical moment in the future. It is right now. Today.
Aniko Gets Kreativ II:
I don’t believe in countdowns.
My inspiration for this post was Hunter Shea’s poignant look at his realization that life is precious and fleeting. Take a moment to read what he has to say. Then, congratulate him on his nomination for the Kreativ Blogger award! I am passing it along via Kim Koning, who honored me with the nomination.
Here’s my first Kreativ Blogger post, in which I explain how I’m breaking the rules.