Things that can happen:
You can choose to be happy for the rest of your life. (Pick this one. Pick this one!)
You can look for a soul mate, a kindred spirit to share your happy life with. ( I did not say that you were guaranteed to find them, but I can guarantee you won’t if you don’t get out there and look.)
You can share your happiness with others who are less fortunate than you. (Go read about Mother Teresa.)
You can live your life knowing you did the best you could with what you had. (Quit wanting what everybody else has. You don’t need it, and they probably don’t either.)
You can leave this world a better place than it was when you got here. (That will not be a high bar, given the way the world is headed today…)
You can promise yourself that you will never feel guilty for a decision well-made. (Unless you are a good Catholic. Then, I give you a pass.)
You can make every effort to make good decisions. (You are reading this blog post. Great start!)
All of these you have direct control over. You can make them happen.
Things that could happen:
You could fade into obscurity, and no one will even notice that you’re gone. (Are you kidding me? Have you heard of credit bureaus? The IRS?)
You could succumb to loneliness. (Not very likely that loneliness alone would kill you, but folks have tried…)
You could end up isolated like Howard Hughes, your Spruce Goose on the ground and your pee in a bottle. (Who wants that?)
You could become disconnected from every family member and every friend and every acquaintance you’ve ever had in this world and nobody would ever call you, ever. (Don’t you owe anybody money?)
You could lose your ability to play the piano. (Oh? You never could play the piano? Skip this one, please.)
You could get depressed. Yes, this is a real one, folks. (I’m a shrink, remember?)
You could become completely and permanently disabled. (Do you know how many people come to my office trying to make me think that they are permanently disabled? Do you know how much work it takes to establish that you are truly disabled? See what I did there?)
You could fade into utter irrelevance, loved by few and remembered by none, a mere drop of ink on the rolled parchment of history. (Oh, good grief. Get over yourself, for Pete’s sake!)
Now, all of these you have very little control over, but really, how likely are any of these? If they happen, take action!
Things that will likely happen:
You will have some kind of illness sometime in your life. It may be small. It may be metastatic cancer. You will go to the doctor, get that sucker diagnosed and treat the hell out it until you beat it or it beats you. Got it?
You will lose people that you love. We’ve all been there. A spouse. A sibling. A parent. A child. A favorite teacher. A mentor.
You will be able to do the things at forty or fifty that you did at twenty, just a lot slower. (Thanks Marshall Rice, for that observation.)
You will not be able to do some of the things at seventy or eighty that you did at twenty. (I know, I know, my brain thinks it’s still twenty too, but one day my body will be way, way behind it.)
You will question who you are, why you are here, and if you are doing any good on this earth. (Go back up to the first group, read them again, and read about Mother Teresa like I told you to. You didn’t do it the first time, did you?)
You will have a crisis of faith. (What? You think you’re the only person who has ever had a deep thought, who questioned religion, life’s meaning and purpose and the existence of God? Again, after you read about Mother Teresa, please go get over yourself, then come back and finish this.)
Once again, all of these may not happen to you, but most of them will. No control here, just reaction and pushing ahead.
Things that will happen to us all:
We will learn how very lucky we have been to be alive at this particular time, in this particular place, with our particular people.
We will make our peace with God, as we have come to understand Him.
We will forgive, and we will pursue forgiveness.
We will pass along the big and small things that we have learned to those that come after us. (They do listen and learn from us, even though sometimes we think they never hear a word we say.)
We will say our goodbyes, given the chance.
We will be truly thankful.
We will die.
All of us, every one of us, will die.
Now, I know that the world has been a very stressful place lately. I, like you, grieve for the loss of life, the loss of love and the chaos that is our modern world. I try to deal with it through writing and working and traveling and hiking and loving.
Some of you deal with it in other ways. That’s okay.
But I want to ask you just one thing, friends.
Given the things that can happen, could happen, will likely happen, and will happen, where do you suppose you ought to put your time, effort and attention today?
Think about that, please, and live the best life you can with what you have.