I was thinking today about how quickly time passes. One moment we are kids, laughing and playing and the next we are adults with children of our own. Then they too grow and life passes in a blaze of awesome moments and fond memories, hard times and challenges. Once you have children time picks up momentum and the years pass as quickly as a summer vacation did when we were kids. There is a John Denver song that I love called “Poem’s, Prayers and Promises.” One of the verses that I relate to so well goes like this:
“The days they pass so quickly now, the nights are seldom long, time around me whispers when it’s cold. The changes somehow frighten me, still I have to smile. It turns me on to think of growing old.”
Of course the tragic part of this song is that John Denver never had the opportunity to grow old. But he did perish doing something he loved which is really all we can hope for in life.
As time passes and we grow older we of course lose more and more people that are close to us. We lose grandparents, parents, siblings and friends. It’s difficult. Death is something that awaits all of us and comes too quickly no matter how old you may be.
Sometimes when I look in the mirror my eyes gaze back in surprise. Who is that 40+ year old woman in this reflection? When did she get there? I don’t feel like 40 years have passed, but the signs are there. I have some wrinkles now, I have more weight on, and the stubborn grey in my hair seems to get even more stubborn as time wares on. But really, none of these superficial things matter. What matters is who I am. What matters is how I am spending my time with whatever time I have, whether it is a day, a year or a multitude of years. I have to make every effort to make sure that I try very hard to make every moment count, even the unpleasant ones.
I was telling someone the other day how I have made a very concentrated effort in making my life as positive as I possibly can. I am moving on from negative people, things and situations and surrounding myself with as much happiness and joy as I can and concentrating on being present in the moment. Their response was that although great to be positive, one must strike a balance, making sure you keep up with current events and what is happening in the world. The statement made me feel judged, as if I was almost being reprimanded or unrealistic in my approach to life. You see, being positive and being present is not about ignoring anything bad that may happen. In fact I read 4 newspapers a day so I’m pretty up on current affairs. But when I read or see something that evokes emotion or outrage, I allow myself to feel the sorrow and sadness when I hear of tragic circumstances, because tragedy is reality, but then I move on. This has nothing to do with maintaining a positive disposition and has nothing to do with striking a balance. There are situations in the world that I’m powerless to solve. What I mean about being positive is that when you face your day, no matter how monotonous, or how horrible it may be; only you have the choice on your attitude. You can give in to the negative, or you can face it with a positive. Believe me, it can sometimes be the harder of the two to take the latter road than it is to sink in to the negative. But it’s well worth the effort.
I am truly not successful at achieving this all the time. I sometimes sink in to that negative mindset and when I do I sink like a stone. But I am consciously aware that when I do so, everything around me is affected. Things seem to go wrong. I start to feel sorry for myself. Poor me enters in to my vocabulary. And before long, it spirals in to a vortex of negative situations. Change the frown upside down, and before long the vortex spits you out on your two feet and you are able to make it through whatever circumstances you are facing in that given moment.
It’s the same with people. Have you ever noticed that when you spend time with negative people, it starts to affect your own mood? You start to see the bleakness in things, and you begin to be drawn in to their world. One of my favorite skits on Saturday Night Live is the one about Debbie Downer. It’s about a family having a nice meal around the supper table. Every time someone says something positive, Debbie Downer chimes in with something tragic or negative, and it starts to get everybody down. And we all know people like that. There is a Debbie Downer in every crowd. So I have made concentrated efforts to take the Debbie’s out of my life and surround myself with cheer. I only have one crack at this time here on earth and I want to leave here knowing I've put my best effort in to having the most rewarding life I can have. And if you ask me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.