We can’t recreate the past and we don’t know what will happen in the future. We never really know when we’ll do something, or talk to someone, for the last time. But we do have full control over what we do in this present moment.
Last weekend my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. All of my immediate family (and their families) came together for a party we’ll never forget. Three parties actually. We spent more than two days together reliving memories and creating lots of new ones. It will be written in my family’s history as one of the best weekends we ever had.
In the middle of all that fun, I also realised something that flooded me with sadness. In just a year, my family will probably look very different. My dad’s physical body lets him down. I doubt he’ll be able to really enjoy another party quite like this. This anniversary was probably the last time I’d get to take him shopping for a present for my mum.
My nephews are reaching an age of independence. They’ll soon be too focused on their future girlfriends (or maybe even uni studies) to return to their home town. Family members are losing jobs, building new houses and moving to different places. We might never be together like this again.
Change can be so confronting and cruel sometimes, especially when you like what you’ve got right now and want it to stay that way. But it’s the nature of human beings that we grow, get old and eventually die. I suspect that my dad doesn’t want to live forever. He’ll probably want to leave this physical body behind when it gets too burdensome. Even though I don’t like it one bit, my dad has his own journey and I need to respect that.
My sadness really had the potential to wreck the party for me. I felt sad when I looked back on all we’d done that was now gone. I felt sad when I looked forward and saw what we would no longer be able to do.
So I decided to stay only in the present. To enjoy every moment with each person, right there and then. In those present moments, we were all happy, together and full of life. Each of those moments built connections between us that will last through all our lives, and deaths.
We can’t recreate the past and (despite all our ‘what if’s’) we don’t know what will happen in the future. And we never really know when we’ll do something, or talk to someone, for the last time. But we do have full control over what we do in this present moment. When we completely devote ourselves to what’s happening right now, we can really live our lives.
And if it turns out to be our last time, we know we’ve fully lived every glorious moment of it.