First 30 Days Blog

29 aug

Have the Time of Your Life

JayForteI have great respect and affection for older people. Maybe I have an old spirit or just really admire the strength to survive on the planet for many years, but I find older people remarkable.

I was particularly fond of all four of my grandparents. And unlike so many of my friends, I had a great opportunity to spend a large part of my life with these amazing people. Their life lessons showed their generosity, limitless love and energy, and at the same time their criticalness and worry. After all, they were human too. But most of what I remember is their love of every day – that wherever you were, you were to be there, in that moment, and appreciating what was around you.

I was reminded of all this as we sat at lunch this week with friends of my in-laws. Both in this couple are older, nearly eighty, and one is significantly ill with scleroderma. But neither condition stops them from being fully present in their lives.

At lunch they shared stories of their recent road trip that took them over four thousand miles to see family, be part of a wedding, visit old friends, and spend time with their kids. Originally, they planned to make this a bus trip but opted instead to drive. Armed with a GPS and a preferred card at Choice Hotels, they spent nearly four weeks meandering through the lives and homes of their friends and family. With the health condition they had to take it slow and rely on the help of people at the hotels and on their families. Everyone stepped up. As they both said, “It was a trip of a lifetime.”

What impressed me most, besides the excitement still in the voices as they shared story after story about the trip, was their courage – the courage to go on this trip – the courage to get up and actively live each day. They appreciate life, its plusses and minuses as part of the way life is. They choose to live as much of life as they can. None of the significant challenges they bear showed up in their stories. No complaints; nothing owed to them. They wanted an amazing trip – they did it, they loved it and they will remember it forever. They had the time of their lives.

My first thought in all this was to applaud them for the courage to go for what they dreamed of. But it made me think – isn’t that really something we all should feel? Why is it we feel that life is any less sacred, important or valued when we are young than when we become old? Why is life any less spectacular when we are well than when we are sick?

We never know the amount of time we are given. That should remind us that life is truly a gift and that it is to be celebrated, applauded and fully lived each day. In the utterly spectacular book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, author Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen shares a powerful line said by a patient who was challenged with a terminal illness, “When you are walking on thin ice, you might as well dance.” Isn’t this really the way we all should live? Since we never know what is coming next, shouldn’t we spend more time dancing?

As with many older people, their lives, attitudes and stories share the wisdom that everyday is more valued, more spectacular and more extraordinary because you get to have it. And why not take a road trip to share your life with those who matter most to you? As much as the road trip was a trip of a lifetime for our friends, it was also the visit of a lifetime for the people they saw. Funny how that works. When we are busy having the time of our lives, we are also helping to create the time of someone else’s life.

It seems that the smartest people on the planet are those who are in touch with their humanity and mortality. They don’t waste time on things that don’t matter. Dave Ramsey says it best, “[So many people] spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” Wise people choose life events over life things. Maybe this is the wisdom in age that I so appreciate. Maybe this is the lesson for all who are younger. Don’t wait. Live the life you love. Make good choices. Have the time of your life.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, performance consultant and life coach. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. His new book, The Greatness Zone; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform Your World, will be available in October 2010. He inspires people to connect to their talents and passions to be fired up! in life and at work. More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com and www.TheGreatnessZone.com.

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Posted by Jay Forte on August 29th, 2010 in Career, Family, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | 0 comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

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