This Fleeting Moment

I don’t pretend to know why bad things happen to good people.  I only know that they do, far more often than they should.  And that sadly, there really isn’t anything we can do to prevent it.

What we can do is accept it, and let that knowledge guide the way that we live our lives.  I’m not suggesting that we stay in a constant state of fear of something really bad happening to us or someone we love, because that would be a truly awful way to live.  I tend to be a bit of a pessimist already, so the last thing I need is any encouragement in that department.  But what I am suggesting is that we recognize that every good thing we have:  our health, our money,  and especially our relationships with the people we love, is something that we need to truly value and appreciate, because none of it is guaranteed to last.

Each day that we wake up in our own beds, healthy enough to face that day’s demands and chores is a gift.  Having enough money to provide for our basic needs is a gift, even if that money is the result of hard work and past sacrifices.  Every single minute spent with the people we love is not only a gift, but the most precious gift of them all.   But all too often, I find myself taking those gifts for granted.  Or worse, making the mistake of thinking that I am far too busy to actually enjoy them.

I think one of the hardest parts of aging is that we know too many people who are struggling and suffering, and that the longer we live, the more we have struggled and suffered ourselves.  I know that could be an excuse to harden our hearts and turn inward in an effort to protect ourselves from further pain.  But it can also be a reason to be much more intentional about how we spend our time and establish our priorities.

I believe that when we really recognize how fleeting life is, and how few things in life can be guaranteed, it makes it so much easier to make good choices about how we do spend our time and energy.  When I stop taking my health for granted, I’m so much more likely to eat foods that are good for me and to make sure I’m getting at least a little bit of exercise each day.  When I don’t assume that I will always be able to pay my bills, I find it so much easier to say “no” to purchases I don’t really need.  But most of all, when I don’t take my most precious relationships for granted, I find that I am always able to find a way to spend time with the people I love.  Because I know that I may not have that choice tomorrow.

Nothing is forever, no matter how much we wish otherwise.  So treasure your gifts now, whatever and whoever they are, while you still can.  Because in the end, that’s all that really matters.

78 thoughts on “This Fleeting Moment

  1. SO beautifully spoken, Ann! You’ve hit on those lessons that we seem to tend toward as we recognize that life is growing shorter. It can be one of the greatest graces that we have. In the midst of it all, I find, has been a growing sense of gratitude, not only for the past, but also for now and the future. We’ve learned a lot about making it through the hard stuff. Whatever is coming, we’ll make it through that, too. I appreciate your wisdom.

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  2. I hope you are fine. It sounds like recent experience may have taught/reminded you of this. Regardless of what inspired you to write this, thank you for the reminder. My ‘excuse’ is the thousands of miles between me and my family. I feel like I’ve missed out so much of their lives. Sometimes when we’re on the phone they say things in passing and that’s when I realize this thing or that thing happened. Their ‘excuse’ is that I’m so far away and by myself so it’s best to ‘not trouble me’. So yes, I’ll see what can happen now you’ve reminded me.

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    • You’re so welcome! I think we all have our “excuses,” but eventually we realize that we can make the people we love more of a priority in our lives if we really want to. Although I do believe that the older we get, the easier it is to realize that and begin to try to do it. Thanks for the comment!

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  3. We watched a very cute, very beautiful movie on HBO the other day. It was called “About Time” and was about a family that could travel in time. In the end of the movie, the main character took to living everyday twice. He lived it first to struggle through it then he lived it again to appreciate it without all the cares, worries and anticipation.

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  4. Oh Ann – so deep and provocative. I hope all is well for you. I’m not sure why, but your comment on your most important relationships made me feel something was asunder. Hopefully overthinking. Such good points you make. Love those important relationships. A good reminder for me too. We just never know. Hugs! xo

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  5. Priorities seems to be more clear with age. I’m learning this more and more. My treasures aren’t in a bank. That is very clear. I will say I am guilty of going inward after painful intersections in life. I’m working on that, too. God’s grip, Ann.

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    • Yes, I think the older we get, the more we realize what is truly important. And hopefully, we begin to change our behavior to reflect that. I’m also guilty of turning a bit inward after a painful experience, and I think that’s okay as long as it is temporary. Sometimes we need a little time to regroup. But we can never stay in that inward state very long if we want to live our lives according to those priorities.

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  6. Humans are much quicker to recognize the negative than to grasp the positive. I have been trying to live “in the moment” as a means to reduce worry about the future and fretting about the past. As I look forward to retirement I’ve had the same worries but now I’m confident that all will be well.

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    • Yes, I think we are more likely to see the negative than the positive, so I guess we have to work at recognizing the good in our lives and make sure we embrace it while we can. Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Ann this is absolutely beautiful. I have read this a few times. There is no viable alternative to getting older until time machines are invented and getting older is a process that really teaches the immeasurable value of the simple things…

    A good friend, a nice conversation, a tasty meal or even the stars in the night sky. This doesn’t make life perfect but it sure gives us a deeper appreciation.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your kind comment! And yes, I agree, the gifts we have in our lives don’t make life perfect, but when we really appreciate them, they do make life so much more worthwhile. Aging has its downsides, but the wisdom we attain as we grow older make it worth it too!

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  8. This resonates so much with me, Ann, having recently lost an old friend very suddenly at the age of just 52, who leaves behind 2 young adopted children. It just seems so cruel. It has made me cherish everything I have and to hold those close to me even closer. You’ve managed to put into words exactly how I’m feeling, thank you.

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    • I’m so sorry for your loss. Sometimes it is just so hard to understand when good people die before their time, especially when they leave behind so many people who love them and really need them. It really is cruel! But all we can do is love those who are still with us all the more, and do all we can to comfort those who are grieving. Wishing you peace…..

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  9. Your wise words speak volumes for all of us. I have been in a difficult space personally, as I am recovering from recent surgery. Without meaning to, we tend to take our health for granted somewhat until something happens. A blessings journal is such a good thing to keep. Sometimes, after I post a blog, I go back again, days later, and read over the messages on Facebook. Many times, I find insights I did not see earlier…simply because I ponder the message and let it sink in. And even in the very bad times, we find that God fills our lives with his earth-angels…friends and family who lift us up and encourage us. We really have to pause in the middle of everything that is going on in our lives, and breathe…thanking God for all the little and big things He so graciously provides.(I am sorry if you have suffered a loss, or someone near to you. There is so much we do not understand, but can only trust our beloveds to God’s safe keeping.)

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    • You’re right, sometimes we do need a little time before we can fully understand, or appreciate, what is going on in our lives. I also find insights I missed the first time when I go back and read something again, and more carefully. And that’s a gift too! I agree that God does give us “earth-angels” to help us cope during the hard times, and that it’s important for us to be that earth-angel to others when they are hurting too. Thanks for the insightful comment!

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  10. Beautifully said Ann and I couldn’t agree more. Every day we wake up is a gift and every 24 hours we get to choose how we use that gift. So I’m with you in choosing to use it wisely and lovingly. Life’s too short to do anything else. Big hugs to you. 🙂💕

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  11. You really hit the bulls-eye this time, Ann! I am learning that gratitude helps keep me from taking my many gifts for granted. I think it has the power to enlarge life, turning what we have into a superabundance. An old used bicycle becomes a miraculous freedom machine. A simple cup of coffee becomes one of life’s truly great pleasures. In relationships, gratitude imparts to others that they mean the world to you.

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    • Thanks, Joe! Gratitude does make such a difference, and I also think that what (and who) we are grateful for, we make time for as well. Being intentional in our life is so important. Thanks for the comment!

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  12. Agreed Ann. I learned (at an early age) that we won’t be here forever, so I’d better appreciate what’s going on each and every day. And I also learned to save money more during my doctoral program when I was broke. I only bought things out of necessity, and that has somewhat stuck with me.

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  13. A beautiful moment of clarity in your words. Learning to live in the moment is a life skill, to appreciate what we have instead of being unhappy about what we think we need. The rest pales in comparison. So nicely written, Ann!

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  14. What a great description of being grateful for what is right, and not what is going wrong. As a self-proclaimed pessimist myself, I know I am usually waiting for the other shoe to drop. But after a few major health scares, I do try to live in the moment and be grateful for everything small and big because there may not be a tomorrow; you are correct. Thanks for this reminder.

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    • Believe me, I am very familiar with the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” philosophy! It isn’t easy to move from that to simply being grateful for what we have, right here and now, but I’m trying. I’m glad this post spoke to you, and thanks for your comment!

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  15. Totally agree, Ann. As I brace myself for the senior years, I know that appreciating what I have and enjoying each day and all the people who are important to me is the best way to be. A great reminder to us all.

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    • You’re right, this is a lesson that really hits home to us the older we get. Only a few are fortunate enough to learn it at an early age, I think. But once we have experienced a few losses, we do become so much more grateful for what we have!

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  16. Oh, Ann, this is just beautiful! Every single word’s so true – we can take nothing for granted and should be thankful and more aware of the people around us and things we have. Life has a way of teaching us this lesson every so often but a reminder like yours is always very welcome. All the best to you!

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    • Thank you so much, Sarah! You’re right, sometimes life teaches us this lesson in ways we wish it wouldn’t. But it’s still something that we need to learn, and I hope this reminder serves us all well.

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  17. As always a great post, Ann and a reminder how fleeting life is. I’m 67 and I still think of myself as younger but the reality that comes in to play each day is a reminder of how precious each day and relationship is. It’s interesting how and when you become much more aware and in tune with those thoughts. They don’t consume but they are there. Just life, I suppose.

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    • “They don’t consume you but they are there.” That’s such a good way to put it, George! Once we begin to truly realize how precious our relationships are, we do value them more and make much more of an effort to stay in touch with those we love. It doesn’t mean we had a great epiphany or neglect other areas of our lives, but….it is there. Thanks for the comment!

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  18. Ann you touch here on the core of the meaning of life. Sadly, most of us do take a lot for granted be it with regards to our health, our relationships and what we have. For example, recently we had NO water whatsoever coming into our water tank due to a drought and government policy to reduce water consumption. When that happens, it really makes you think. About people that struggle to have a drop of fresh water in their daily lives both for drinking and for all the other uses. This is true today for over one billion people and climate change related trends show a clear pattern of desertification and reduction in portable water world wide. As illustration, last year in Cape Town, the water actually ran out!!

    On a more personal note, I really feel as though I learnt the lesson of life and love and impermanence when my brother died many years ago, at the tender age of 24. It really made me think hard about my life and I made some dramatic changes and made decisions based on the knowledge of how fleeting things are. This tragedy in my own life, influenced my decision to have a different lifestyle where experiences are way more important to me than stuff. As a result, I don’t own much and what I do buy I select carefully, I try to eat as healthy as possible (why NOT stack the odds in our favor?) and we use almost all our money for travel as this is our passion and what brings us joy even though we do not have the security or stability of different life choices.

    Thank you for a very thought provoking and heartfelt piece which really does resonate with me.

    Peta

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    • Thank you Peta! I’m so sorry about your brother, but glad that you used that tragedy to make sure you are living your own life to the fullest, and according to your principles. It’s so easy to have strong beliefs, but not so easy to actually carry them out. We do need to stack the odds in our favor when it comes to personal health and do everything we can to protect our natural resources so there will be enough for everyone. And I wish more of us were brave enough to devote our lives to following our passions…..

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