Last Monday would have been my brother-in-law’s 34th birthday. The day before, my sister followed the voice in her heart telling her to travel to Scotland for the summer and she took off on a brave adventure with the two boys and our Mom. Saying goodbye to them for the next few months (I hope to meet up with them in July for a few weeks) and then thinking about Nick’s birthday has naturally put me in a reflective mood this week and I have been looking back over the past 6 months to see how losing him has shaped our new lives and affected us all.
Lesson #1: Any sense of true control we have over our lives is an illusion
It’s a necessary part of our human nature to plan and steer our lives down the path we want. If we didn’t have that drive, where would the fulfillment in hard work and creating things be? It’s important to dream and work toward something meaningful, but there is still an undeniable fact that we are all one phone call away, one instant of distraction that could send our lives on a trajectory nothing like we planned or wanted.
We all know this on an intellectual level. I mean, in my job, I’ve even had to be the person making that phone call to deliver bad news. I had to tell someone just yesterday about a new tumor in her lung that is likely cancer. But I’ve never had to really wrap my mind and heart around this profound thought until 6 months ago. When you truly come face to face with this…man, it can rock your world.
Sometimes I marvel at how amazing humans are and sometimes I marvel at how dumb we can be. We can watch Dead Poet’s Society a hundred times, and never really get the message to Carpe diem. We can intellectually understand this concept, but only experience teaches us the lessons we so dearly need. No one is immune to loss or tragedy, it is universal. Sometimes the life you lead is just plain luck.
So I’m taking this thought, and I’m holding it uncomfortably close to my heart. I can’t afford to forget this feeling, this lesson. And it inspires me to be a better person and fit more joy into my life. I don’t need to fear that lack of control, I just need to practice the gratitude of what I have right now.
The luck that is life right now, it’s an obligation to keep dreaming and keep working hard, to keep connecting with and helping others, and to keep moving toward the next adventure.