Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Equal Weight

I was on Twitter awhile ago when a friend of mine tweeted that she had an opportunity to go to Europe and wasn’t sure if she should take it or not.

I said YES. DO. GO. Don’t miss the opportunity to do something amazing when you have no idea what tomorrow brings!

I was all for it.

I didn’t ask what the cons would be. I didn’t ask if it fit into her life. I didn’t ask anything… I just said go. That’s often my response to things these days, because I don’t want my missed opportunities to be your missed opportunities. I want to scream for people to take risks, take trips, do what scares you and do it afraid. DON’T WAIT.

I had so many things I dreamed of doing… so many things I was sure I would do. I never dreamed my life would be limited so quickly and so early. I dreamed of a career and family and travel. I thought I’d go to Europe, spend time in New York, see a Broadway play and experience life in all its fullness.

I didn’t do those things, and I didn’t want anyone else to wait to experience them either.

But I have to tell you, I think I was wrong. While taking risks and not waiting for life to be perfect can be good, and even necessary sometimes, I have to remember that not everyone’s lives are going to turn out like mine. Not every opportunity is the last chance for most people. Many get second and even third chances to do what they dream.

The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.
  - Carl Jung

And more importantly, what you do while you let opportunities pass you by can be just as influential as the trips and the experiences. I sat, thinking of all the places I might have gone and things I might have done, and I tried to imagine which parts of my life I would have given up to make that happen.

Would I have wanted to miss any part of my college experience to be an exchange student? Who would I have missed meeting here? What experiences would be missing from my life if I had chosen another path?

What about all those games and recitals I watched when my nieces and nephews were little? Or the lazy afternoons with my friends and their kids at the pool in the summer? Would I have wanted to give up any one of those moments to see a Broadway musical?

I didn’t know then that I would eventually come to this place. I didn’t know I would be in a situation where walking out my front door would be considered an impossibility. And I can tell you that I long for games and recitals more than I long to see Wicked on stage in New York. I dream of lazy afternoons poolside more than I dream of seeing Tuscany.

I realized that, while I am telling people to not miss a chance or moment or opportunity, the truth is that each one of those grand opportunities may replace a simpler one. A life-giving one. A precious one that will leave you with a memory, which can fill up your lonely spaces.

I missed out on a lot of life experiences, which causes me to want to make sure no one else does the same.

But I have more precious memories that I wouldn’t trade for any grand trip or excursion.

So the next time you are deciding between here or there… deciding between grand trips or simple outings… I am only going to give you one piece of advice:

Savor your moments. Big and small. Because both have equal weight.

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