Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Get busy living
I received a text today from a friend that began with, “Did you hear about …? He died.” She told me of the unexpected passing of a former co-worker. Not so long ago, I sent her a similar text to let her know of the surprising passing of a community member we had shared time with. One minute here; the next minute, gone. She and I agree we cannot believe we have gotten to the age where we begin our conversations with, “Did you hear who died?” It is a sad fact, but also part of the journey.
There is no getting away from the pain that comes from losing someone we care about. It is not lost on me that the more people I meet, the more likely I will hear the news one day of their death — family members, former classmates, neighbors, co-workers past and present, friends and acquaintances. And the older I get, the more likely and more frequently it happens. And so I grieve. Individually and collectively we grieve our losses and then take on the difficult job of finding a way to move on.
Personally, I think the greatest waste is a wasted life. A very long time ago I was debating saying yes to an exciting opportunity. I almost let the idea that it would cost too much money and came with too many unknowns (along with a little practicality) keep me from saying yes to a once in a lifetime experience. Luckily, a much wiser woman shared this adage: “I have found it is not the things I did, but the things I didn’t do that I most regret.” And just like that I bought the ticket, packed my bag, and made an everlasting memory. It was a great lesson.
There are so many opportunities and so much to see and do in the fleeting time we have on this Earth; I cannot encourage you enough to get up and go! It is more important than ever that we spend each day really living the life we have and that means experiencing all that life has to offer. It comes in the form of contributing to others as well as being open to learning from them. For me, this has been a good year for adventure.
A Christmas gift from my children sending me to Las Vegas to see a favorite performer set the tone. It was an ove-the-top trip that would have remained a fantasy had it not been for their generosity and the right mix of girlfriends. The planning and then six months of anticipation did nothing to diminish the reality of the adventure when it finally happened though I admit to a moment of hesitation born of fear.
I couldn’t help but take a moment to think about being in such a large city and the possibility of what has become part of the norm of the country happening to us – in such a public scenario, the very real possibility of something terrible taking place played out in my mind. Almost as quickly, I forced the thought away and decided to be smart but not frozen. It makes me angry to realize this is part of the culture we live in, but the alternative of missing out held no appeal. I did stay a bit more aware of my surroundings, but it certainly did not keep me home.
In a similar vein, I was saddened – and a bit offended – by a family member who was not sure they would like to visit me because of the stories they had heard about California. You know, the crime, the aggressive homeless, the filth and very real danger they would be in. Car jackings and drive by shootings, etc. Some of the tales were simply outlandish, but if they are only reading the headlines, of course that is what they will believe.
But here is the truth: when we are on the ground and meeting humanity where we live, we find most people are good. We are a nation of kind and giving people and the only way to really know that is to get on the road and explore it.
I have been fortunate to have experienced a fair amount of travel both internationally and across this country and I encourage you to get in the car and go! Exploring not only the major cities and tourist attractions, but the lesser roads traveled, where the wonderful and unexpected await. It is summer break. Pile the kids in the car (or not) and go!
It is the unknown, and the cacophony and the diatribe that has divided us as a people. The truth is we are all part of this amazing human race. Our job is filling the time with love and compassion. Our job is to expand our horizons and to contribute to the human experience. Life, no matter the number of years, is much too short.
We all have a gift that is this one life and we are all going to one day be the subject of that text or phone call, “Did you hear about … ? They died.” It is what we do with our lives while we are here that makes the difference. To quote one of the greatest movie lines of all time, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
And as the performer in Vegas emphasized, we can be the change simply by being kind.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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