Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What I’ve Learned

I collected my sixth zero this week. No one with a functioning brain cell gets this old without learning at least a few worthwhile truths. I’ve learned “The Five Be’s” that I thought worth sharing.

Be Open to Life. It goes by fast, so try not to get stuck in the slow lane. Shake up the routine once in awhile—do something different, go someplace new. Be willing to accept surprises. If you are, you might find yourself on a limosine ride to wine country with all of your kids and several of your dearest friends on your 60th birthday weekend. I know, because it happened to me.

Be Grateful. No matter what’s going on, we’ve all got a lot to be thankful for. I’ve lost a few jobs over the years, but I’ve kept my health. My husband died too young, but my children and friends are the best comfort and support anyone could hope for. I used to think that “an attitude of gratitude” was just a sappy catch phrase. Now I know it’s the key to being satisfied with life.

Be Prepared. People will never fail to disappoint. Friends I thought were true blue dropped me like a hot brick when crisis struck. True colors show under pressure, and pressure shows up in every life. I don’t exempt myself; I’m sure I’ve let some people down, too. But there can be good surprises. I discovered new friends I never knew I had during hard times, people who stepped up to help me and my family and then stayed to be part of our lives. It’s impossible to predict how people will react under stress, so keep expectations low and be ready for anything.

Be Calm. After my husband died in 2006, I found myself becoming much more mellow about leaky faucets, car trouble, lost invoices, noisy neighbors—just about any annoyance of life. My motto became “EEUD”—Everyone Ends Up Dead. If it sounds morbid, it’s not meant to be. It’s just a statement of fact. Nobody gets out alive. Keeping that reality in mind puts life in perspective. There simply isn’t anything worth getting hysterical about.

Be Aware. I’ve heard it said that everything goes back in the box at the end of life. For me, it’s important to note that everything I take out of the box during my lifetime comes from God. Since everything’s going back to Him in the end, I try to avoid breakage and to pack carefully. This is especially true as the calendar reminds me that my shipping date is drawing ever closer.

If I had to capsulize all my life’s wisdom into one sentence, I suppose I’ve learned that life is good and meant to be lived as joyfully as possible. It doesn’t take 60 years to figure that out.