I work in an ER which can be a pain in my ass. People are idiots which keeps me in a job and drives me crazy all at the same time. The job does, however, give me some great and wonderful gifts. One of these is a keen awareness of just how precious life is in its many facets.
I have done a lot of things, have led a charmed life really. I have skydived, and kayaked rivers. I am a cave diver, have been diving all over the Carribean and the US. Swum with dolphins in the wild, been diving with sharks on multiple occasions. I live in one of the cave diving capitals of the world. I have held the lives of others in my hands and watched them take their last breaths despite anything I could do for them--and watched them take their first breaths as they came into the world. I have given people the joy of finding out they were pregnant and given them the worst news of their lives as I told them their mate or parent or child died or that they were filled with cancer. While my life has not been as dramatic or full of impact as some, it has been full, and I am thankful for it. And I don't mention these things to brag. Rather I say them to illustrate that my life has not been without drama and adventure, I have done and continue to do, many of the things that people tend to list in the things that they want to do "when."
I am also an avid people-watcher. I watch people--study them. I really, truly look at them as I'm going about my day wherever I am. People actually probably think I'm crazy, but I do. And seeing people in their last days and hours can be enlightening. No matter how young or old, I've never heard someone in their last days and moments talk about climbing mountains or jumping out of planes or doing any other grand and wonderous, adrenaline-pumping thing. They talk about the people they love and Sunday dinner and how goofy so-and-so was. They hold hands and take each moment and hold onto it as tightly as they can. They roll outside (if they can) to watch the sunset, or they watch it from a window. They go out and bring in favorite foods. They rent favorite movies. They tell family stories and thank each other for things that happened years ago. And they hug, and they love, and they hold hands some more. Those families that don't get those last moments--the ones to whom I am giving that dreaded, horrible news of sudden loss? They never say, "but he never got to paddle class 6 rapids!" They worry about praise never given and love never expressed. They fret over arguments left unresolved and hard feelings never worked through. And they miss the little things--like the dirty clothes that person once left strewn through the house or their dirty glass that never got put in the dishwasher. I have learned a lot from both sets of experience.
While I still have a long "bucket list," my job has given me the gift of understanding that living truly comes in the small quiet moments of every day. Living is eating dinner every day with my love. Living is taking the time to go for walks and play ball with my girls. Living is talking to my mom every day on the phone and letting her and my dad know that I love them and hearing from them that they love me. Living is letting the house stay a mess while I go fly-fishing with my 80-year-old fishing buddy. Living is driving with the sunroof open and the windows down. And living is SO many other things in my day-to-day life that I try to remember not to take for granted.
So live the big moments and the little ones and start doing it right this second. Living has almost nothing to do with your pant size.