You know how, when you’re a kid, somebody – maybe a grandmother, a parent, or a beloved aunt – tells you that life is short? You know how, when they say those stupid words, nodding their heads wisely, how you knew, with all of your being, that that person – the one who said that life is short – was certifiably insane?
Whether you heard those words at the age of seven, eleven, or twenty, you knew, you knew, that life was most definitely the opposite of short. You knew that life was truly and unbearably long. The grownups who said otherwise were obviously not doing this life thing of ours correctly.
As a kid, I counted the minutes and the months to the day when I’d finally be allowed to stay home alone, to walk to a friend’s house unsupervised, to drive, and to move out and do whatever I wanted. The time until my next birthday seemed endless, as did the sweet stretch of summer freedom when school let out each year.
I crave the feeling of freedom accompanied by giggling with my brothers when we had two whole hours to play before dinner time. During those minutes, we were able to plan, create, and execute amazingly complex games involving neighbors and other props before being called inside to talk about our days over a family meal. Which were also unbearably long.
Um. Friends? I hate to be the one to break it to you. But those grownups? They were right.
Life, as it turns out, is really fucking short, even though it doesn’t always feel like it.
It’s likely that there’s some scientific formula for life feeling short, or long, depending on how many days of it that one has lived.
Whatever. I’m feeling like life is way too short these days. It feels fleeting and scary and OHMYGOD you guys I have a kindergartner!
Life feels too short now. Maybe, possibly, if I share with you here about some of the moments that I personally want to let go of while the world and my mind spin along, I, and all of us, will be able to remember that there are long moments buried within this too-short life.
This stuff is the stuff that I want to remember.
Life is too short to feel guilty that I gave my son his iPad so that I could finish some work today. It’s also too short to not realize that it was a gorgeous fall day, and that it was time to close my work, close his iPad, and take a walk. To giggle and laugh and celebrate the fact that while life is too short, today was still long during moments spent exploring every stick on the sidewalk, trying to make them break just so, so that they’d snap and fly.
Life is too short to cry while driving home from work, from my supposed stress-free, part-time job (that doesn’t pay me enough) because I was unable to do all of the alls in a five-hour, babysitter-free day.
Life is too short to obsess at how it’s possible for me to love a babysitter who seemed to love my little boy for an entire year, and then just, well, stopped.
It’s too short to wait to follow our dreams, even when they seem dumb and impossible. After all, some of the most ridiculed and the stupidest of dreams have been realized and wildly successful.
Life is too short to not be a good friend to people who want our friendship. Unless, you know, they suck your soul. In which case, cut them off, because (you know it’s coming) life is too short.
Life is too short to try and make friends with bitchy neighbor women who don’t want anything to do with us, who care more about the latest handbag than they do the feelings of parents waiting anxiously at a bus stop with their children.
Life is too short to not reach out, due to fear of rejection. Reach out. Reach out and wear sunscreen. Because life is also too short for avoidable face damage and skin cancer.
Life is too short to not laugh at ourselves. Laugh often, laugh hard, and make it count.
It’s too short to worry about things that we cannot fix, or change. It’s too short to not fix, or change, the things that we can.
Life is too short to laugh at other people. We all matter. We all count. Laughing at people who are different from us make the whole thing less meaningful, important, and real.
Life is too short to judge. To hold prejudice and opinions founded on nothing and the seemingly everything that doesn’t really matter. It’s too short to think that people with special needs are anything other than people. It’s too short to care about who marries whom, the color of somebody’s skin, socks, or hair, and whether he or she has an accent, or a speech delay. That’s not what mattes.
Happiness matters, but is not guaranteed. Life matters. Love matters. Family, and friends, and laughter and moments that we relive over and over and over again matter.
If there are things in your life that make you bitter? Cut them out. If how your neighbor practices her religion, or her politics, or her marriage matters to you? Stop. It doesn’t have anything to do with you, and your too-short life.
What is it that you want? What is it that you want, today, tomorrow, and for all of your children’s tomorrows? What do you want for the year 2092? Do you want freedom? Equity? Equality? Then friends, life is too short to not say what you want to say, today, while you’re here. While I’m here. While all of us are here, to listen, to act, and to be. To change, and to matter.
Life’s too short for anything else.
This week’s sentence was: “Life is too short for…”