The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. —Anonymous
I think I’ve thoroughly established around here that Julie the Cruise Director Bill is a doer, a planner, a get-up-off-your-ass-and-move kind of guy. He is always on the go, making plans, going places, meeting friends. He likes the idea of sitting still, of just being, but can’t really wrap his head around actually doing that.
For my part, I’m The Master of Chill. I have no problem lounging around, doing not much of anything except riding the couch, watching the TV and/or reading a book. For me, there’s a lot of pleasure in doing nothing. A perfect day is one that extends infinitely ahead of me without plans or demands. It’s how I get my bearings, find my center.
Most of the time Bill and I balance each other our pretty well. He drags me out (sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes willingly) to do things, and 85% of the time I’m glad he did. Some days I insist that we’re doing nothing and I plant myself somewhere and refuse to budge like a willful child. About 85% of the time Bill will tell me later in the day that he needed to do nothing that day.
Until a few days ago, though, I wasn’t really sure why he was so unrelenting with doing. There’s almost an urgency to it sometimes, as though if he can keep moving…what?
We were having one of those State of Our Marriage talks that happen from time to time. Nothing serious—more like a check-up more than anything. You good? Yup. You? Yup—and the topic of living life came up. Bill was reminding me that it’s not just doing what you have to do, but really living life—actively participating, taking charge, having fun and not letting it pass you by.
I’m all for that, but I’m a proponent of balance, too.
And then he said something that made everything click in place:
“I’m 55 years old. My father died when he was 75. If that’s any indicator, I’ve got 20 years left. I’m not about to spend that time waiting, watching life pass me by.”
That slapped me hard. Suddenly, 20 years doesn’t seem that long.
Granted, it’s a somewhat fatalistic view of life, but I suppose there’s a lot of truth in it. We talk about going here, doing that, writing more, traveling, doing things that make us happy. So what am I doing? What am I waiting for? I want to spend more time with my husband, doing things together, having fun. And not just because he may only have “20 years left” (truth be told, he’ll outlive me!), but because I don’t want life to pass me by. I don’t want to wake up when I’m 80 and wonder what I did all my life. Because as much as I love my Tivo, it’s not what I’m going to remember when I’m sitting in my rocking chair at the old folks’ home.
I’m not going to live my life like a game of Beat the Clock, but I will definitely say “Yes” more. I will try to get out more and burrow in my house less.
What have I got to lose?