Walking around campus I see so many people rushing from place to place, late for class, about to miss the bus or maybe just needing to use the bathroom. Whatever the reason, we all have somewhere to be or something to do.
Recently, my own rushing around stopped when I learned of the passing of Blake Nichols, Willamette High School’s class of 2013 quarterback. Blake’s smile was one everyone in the hallway knew, even if they had never talked. Knowing Eugene lost such a great young person had its way of bringing me back into reality. Even though I didn’t know him personally, I knew enough to understand the great loss and began to see how short life really is.
Death can happen to anyone at any time. Life is fragile — we may be alright today, but this isn’t Neverland. Of course, we can’t box ourselves up with a “this side up” label and remain comfortable until we die of old age, assuming we’ll even make it that far.
It seems to me that we’re all running about as if we’ll never die. I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of running to begin with, but to me it seems silly to rush through life like it’s a race, especially when the finish line is unknown and the blue ribbon is more like Snow White’s apple covered in cyanide than a prize.
There’s no promise of tomorrow. The only certainty is that we’re alive today, and regardless of our circumstances or state of mind we have that to be thankful for. Some people no longer have today to sleep through their alarms, be stuck in traffic, spill coffee on their crotches or drop their new iPhones in the toilet.
When I stop and pause for a moment, just long enough to take in my surroundings, the day and what I’m doing, I like to ask myself, ‘What are you missing? Was rushing to make it to work on time worth not noticing that the sun was out for the first time all winter?’
Life is simple, but I can’t help but notice how I complicate it. At the end of the day maybe I’m more concerned with what I have than with what I do. I’d rather look back on what I gained than on what I experienced. I dwell on my problems instead of enjoying all that’s available to me, solely just for being human. Thinking about it, these end of the day thoughts are unnecessary reactions and a waste of time. Life hands out lemons like nobody’s business, but life also rarely gives second chances. There’s always something great whizzing by you that you might never know you’ve missed.
To quote a movie I’ve watched at least once a month since I was seven, “A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.” I could possibly be the only person who turns to Disney’s “Cool Runnings” for life lessons, but life does go on whether you get the gold or not.
We can’t all grow up to be astronauts and princesses, but we can learn to be content. We can most definitely grow up to get the most out of each day we’re lucky enough to be around for.
Gold medals are great accomplishments to look back on, but it’s more important to remember the journey that got us there. Life is about the journey, not the gold medal, and life doesn’t give a shit what we have to do tomorrow.