I have this “one Sunday a month” tradition that sees me packing a notebook, my journal, two pens, a highlighter, my laptop, earphones, my current read, a bottle of sparkling water and a sandwich made in a hurry- which often finds its way back where it was made and ultimately comes face to face with the dustbin. The road then leads me to a nearby, quiet yet scenic park with the perfect waterfall and clean air filled with the carefree chirping of birds. The next three hours that follow the spreading of my picnic blanket on the ground is usually three hours of pure bliss.
I usually spend the first hour typing away on my laptop, the second hour writing in my journal (I still find pen and paper quite fascinating), and the third hour reading the hell out of a book. Of the three hours, the third hour is usually my favorite. I should probably let you know at this point that I am very selfish with my reading time. This is the time when I forget that I own a cell phone and even blinking becomes something I can totally live without. I get so engrossed in a book that if a grand heist was being planned right next to me I probably wouldn’t hear a word of it.
When my reading hour lapses, I take a walk around the park, listening to some good music as I bob my head to the beautiful beats. Sometimes I forget and catch myself bursting a rough move, followed by a guilty look around the park to make sure no one noticed my weak and awkward attempt at random dancing in the park for it must be something really painful to watch. After my walk, life as I know it can continue.
Anyway, the last Sunday I set out to carry out my tradition I didn’t even get past my usual set up. As I was just about to spread my picnic blanket on the ground, I heard a female voice call out “Maureen, is that you?” Normally, I would put out my hand to anyone who was about to disturb my Sunday tradition peace and let them talk to the five fingers, but this particular voice sounded like that of someone who knew me very well and not like someone who is all about disturbing people’s peace.
It was a former schoolmate and friend who I hadn’t seen in over a decade. It’s like she had literally fallen off the face of the earth for all of that decade she had missed in action. I rushed over to give her a quick bear hug and as I asked her 101 questions per second, I noticed she had a certain look in her eyes. Sadness was it? Yes, the look was sadness. She also looked a little distant as she tried to respond to my questions as fast as I was asking them and that is when I noticed the walking stick in her hand.
It turned out that my dear long lost friend had gone completely blind in one eye about a year ago and in just a matter of months her other eye-whose sight has already started failing- is going to follow suit. She told me her sad story in detail and explained how her life had changed. Without shedding a tear she told me how she regrets not having traveled, how she will probably never meet someone to love and even if she does she will never get to really see him, never get to see her children, never get a chance to read books any time she wants to, never watch TV and go to the movies,never drive again, never do so many things . So she decided that with her less than half a sight she will try to see everything for the last time hence her everyday tradition which entails going everywhere and anywhere and just see things. Really see things. The sad part she said, is that she is yet to turn 30 at the end of this year and she might not have her sight by then! Her only prayer is that she will still be able to see something, anything by her 30th birthday.
Before we parted ways, she held my face in her hands and studied it keenly. Usually, my face is off limits and is reserved for only two people for now… my mother- for when she is removing some form of unidentified rubbish off it the special way only mothers know how and my special person. Anyone else might just find themselves on the ground, face down, for I will have pulled a quick Jujitsu move on them that even I wouldn’t know where it came from. But I let my friend touch it and study it all she wanted. I understood why she was doing it and I was ok with it. BTW, all this while I was a wet face mess and I couldn’t be helped!
That day I went home, stared at myself long and hard in a full length mirror for 20 minutes with thoughts running wild in my mind , then I took out my journal and quickly wrote down the following 10 commandments inspired by one Mary Anne Radmacher because… Life. Must. Be. Lived!
#1 Thou shalt practice wellness
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present: the result being that he does not live in the present or the future: he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.
I always speak about how Life and Death compete for us every day. Whenever we do something that is bad for our health, death gets a point. Whenever we exercise Life smiles from ear to ear. It is therefore necessary to be on Life’s side. Exercise, drink water, eat right, smile often, think positive thoughts, help your organs maintain good health because all that= Life! Ill health is a waste of a certain percentage of life anyway!
#2 Thou shalt listen hard
When you grow older you realize that listening is much better than talking. Just the same way you learn that giving is better than receiving. So listen, and listen hard. You may be shocked at the results.
#3 Thou shalt play with abandon
The only thing the richest guy, the poorest guy, the healthiest chap, the unhealthiest chap, the most powerful person on earth and the least powerful person on earth have in common is that we all have only one shot at life. You only get to live once making it fit to give anything you try your all without limiting yourself whatsoever. Be a little crazy…maybe even a lot crazy. Take risks. Travel,Eat life with a bloody big spoon!
#4 Thou shalt always Laugh and choose happiness
Live. Love. Laugh!If that’s not your daily mantra already then you need to make it your mantra. Fill your days with laughter. Hang around happy people. Fill your days with fun events. Laugh at yourself, laugh with other people, laugh at jokes, laugh until you cry, laugh until your ribs hurt. Laugh until you’re almost peeing your pants. Laugh and show off those molars. Just laugh!
#5 Thou shalt choose with no regret
Knowing that you only have one shot at life should allow you to choose freely and back up your decisions with your heart whatever the outcome. If the outcome is good then well and good and if it is bad then learn from it. Besides, you should never blame anyone for the choices you make so you might as well make sure that there’s no chance for regrets.
#6 Thou shalt appreciate your friends and Loved ones
Cherish your loved ones for they are the only people who will always stand by you and be there for you regardless of the times. Even when you lose your sight, they will be your eyes.
#7 Thou shalt continue to learn
Learning never stops even for the wisest of sages. Jump at every opportunity to learn something new because you either learn and grow wiser or ignore and go further down the dumb zone. Also, books are your friend. You could be surprised with the amount of knowledge you can reap from just one book. Occupy your time only with things that let you learn something.
#8 Thou shalt do what you love
Work towards your happiness by doing what you love. Like someone once said, “Don’t be impressed by titles, clothes, wealth and awards. Instead, be impressed by kindness, integrity, humility and applied knowledge.” What better way to achieve that than spending time doing that which you love doing? Make up your own traditions that give you something to always look forward to. Continue not being ashamed of loving the strange things that make your weird little heart happy.
#9 Thou shalt live with intention
Whenever in doubt of where your life is headed, do a SWOT analysis on yourself and then do what needs to be done.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle.
#10 Thou shalt live as if this is all there is
First of all, step away from the TV! Then, cherish every second of your existence. Do away with grudges, forgive anyone who wrongs you. Forgive yourself. Don’t procrastinate. Love. Allow yourself to be loved. Kiss. Smile. Dance in the middle of the street like nobody is watching. Hold on to the good memories. Live!
The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you are the pilot. – Michael Atshuler