My grandma passed away almost fifteen years ago in a tragic motorcycle accident that took her life and left my grandpa in critical condition. I took on my grandma’s love for piano by taking lessons, keeping her as close as possible. We have the piano she used to play at my parent’s house and although I’m almost positive it’s never been tuned since 2000, it is a subtle reminder of her presence.
I’ve always had a strong connection with my grandma’s spirit, ebbing and flowing in its richness. I felt like if I was about to make a poor decision, she was there watching, forcing me to think twice about my actions. Of course, I ignored the presence most of the time (I think we can blame the frontal lobe development), but it has been a guiding light for me throughout my teen years into my twenties.
We hear about lives ending all the time. Many of these people didn’t get to choose the way their lives ended. A chapter of their book was left incomplete. In the blink of an eye, everything is done. While depressing and quite solemn for a Monday morning, it is something that is a reminder to me to live fully, be present and soak up every single opportunity.
It reminds me that I get one shot at life.
Who knows when it will be done, so why not embrace it all? Why sit in bitterness over someone who dumped you? Why be upset over situations you can’t control? Why waste your time trying to intuit someone’s intention when you’ll never possibly know their thoughts?
When I was on my cycling trip around Lake Michigan in 2013, we all had to get Road ID bracelets, so essentially if we flew into the ditch and were seriously injured, there was contact information on the bracelet. At the bottom of mine, I put YOLO. I put it because a) I’m sometimes just weird like that and b) at least if I died, I was doing something totally awesome.
Life can be this really amazing, beautiful story that you get to create with your own mind and body. You get to choose the places you explore, you get to choose where you live and what you invest your money in. It’s so great, right? And sometimes we just have to take it day by day because life can be hard. We face challenges that really weigh us down, but you’re alive and you’re breathing and you’re reading this silly post and you get a chance to do this thing called life.
When I end my yoga classes, before our final pose, all my students are encouraged to wrap themselves into a little ball on their back, squeezing in so tight. And I tell them to thank themselves, honor the body that does so many wonderful things for them each and every day. It takes awareness, presence and gratitude to see life through a lens like that.
Don’t wrap yourself up in the small things. Quit your job if it sucks the life out of you. Get new friends if yours are lame. Start a new hobby. Only you get to choose how your current chapter continues, ends or possibly even begins.