Recently, I saw an image on Pinterest that said “Life*” at the top, then underneath, in small print by the asterisk, it said: “Available for a limited time only, limit one per customer, subject to change without notice, provided ‘as is’ without any warranties, your mileage may vary.”
While this was meant as something to make people laugh, it actually packed a powerful message. Amazingly, we tend to believe that life comes with some type of warranty that promises things will always be easy, fun and painless. And when it’s not, we complain—incessantly.
We complain about the weather. “OMG, it’s so cold, when will it ever stop?” Then, two months later we carp: “OMG, it’s so hot and humid, when will it ever stop?”
We whine that the trains and buses are late. We moan that people are rude, the stock market hasn’t done well, or that the grocery store is out of our favorite item. Recently, I was at Whole Foods and I heard a woman complaining to the manager that they were out of her “soy milk substitute.” First of all, what is soy milk substitute? And second, why would anyone want it?
We waste so much time complaining about the superficial things that we miss precious seconds, hours, days, even years of our life. It’s like the Jewish prayer: “Days pass and years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles.” We must be grateful in the good times and the bad, for in the end, it’s still life.
Warnings like “life is short,” get greeted by eye rolls and shrugs. Yes, we’ve all heard this saying many times—which I think is part of the problem. I’m afraid we have heard it so much that we have become immune to it.
But there is urgency in those three short words. Things can change in the blink of an eye. We don’t know what is going to happen from one day to the next. We don’t know if we will be given tomorrow—or even the rest of today. Just look at the headlines: random shootings, tornados that tear apart entire towns, soaring cancer statistics. Life – is – short.
It is also sacred. The Psalmists offered this wisdom: “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13-14). Life is the greatest, most sacred gift we have. Sure you may think other things are important, but if you didn’t wake up this morning, then what difference would it make?
Life is short. Life is sacred. And, because of that it should be celebrated in the good times and the bad. It doesn’t matter where you find yourself: a long line at the DMV, the dentist chair or the chemo room, it’s still life and there is joy to be found in the simple taking of a breath.
The author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote, “People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
Find that light. Strive to be grateful in all circumstances. Use that gratitude to inspire and lift up others who are mired in difficulty.
We were never guaranteed that life would be easy, or fun, or painless. Yet, even in the pain we can be grateful for the simple gift of being alive. And, if you find yourself struggling, use these few words as your mantra: “it’s still sacred, it’s still a gift, it’s still life.”