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.