languages, and I love the ability we have to communicate simply
by changing intonation. I often look at sentences and
think about the different implications involved in a simple
shift in stress, a different way of pronouncing the same group
of words. The sentence that I'm using as a title to this
column is one of the most important to me for quite a few
reasons, no matter how we stress the words when we say it.
YOUR life to live." It's nobody else's life--we don't
have to live to please others or to meet the expectations of
others. It's nice to want to meet those expectations
sometimes, especially when we recognize that meeting them is in
our own best interests, but we certainly aren't obligated to do
so. This is my life, and I have to do the things that I
feel are right and best for me and for the people for whom I've
freely accepted responsibility.
example, I have a wife and step-children, so I can't quit my job
and go spend a year in the Grand Canyon, no matter how appealing
that idea may be.
But even in the context of the family, I
still must do what I feel is right and best for me. In
this case, I've accepted full responsibility for contributing to
the well-being and support of my family, and it's in my best
interests to live up to that responsibility and keep my word,
for that's the type of person I am. I can't pack up and
go, nor do I wish to do so.
matter what anyone else tries to convince me to do--enter this
business, take this job, take these classes--I have to stay true
to my vision of life and my conscience.
And since I'm
fully aware of the implications of this way of being, I can't
ask anyone else to do anything in their lives just because I
think they should do it, or because I think it's what's best for
them. I have to tell them what I think and then back off
and let go of all expectations, trusting that they'll do what's
best or at least learn from mistakes.
your LIFE to live." You've heard it before--this
isn't a dress rehearsal. This isn't even opening night,
with many more performances in the future. This is the
real thing, every minute of every day. It's your
LIFE. It's an awe-inspiring thought for me--we've been
given this wonderful gift of life, and we're living it every
day, if we choose to do so.
all been given a wonderful opportunity to shape and craft this
life we've been given into something useful, artistic, helpful,
loving, magnificent. But most of us get caught up in
tasks--things to do and people to see and deadlines and
contracts. We forget to keep in mind that if we choose to
do so, we can spend some of our time learning about LIFE,
learning how to create a happy life with love and peace and
hope. I heard a wonderful short story on a tape program
that I have. A preacher was driving on a country road when he
came upon a beautiful small farm, with tall rows of corn, produce
gardens, a beautiful house--everything you could imagine in a
small farm. Spying the farmer, he approached him and
exclaimed, "What a beautiful piece of land you have
here! God definitely has blessed you with a wonderful farm
and a bountiful harvest!" The farmer looked around
himself and said, "Yes, I definitely am blessed with what I
have, but you should have seen this piece of land when God had
it to himself!"
your life to LIVE." A frightening thought: the
absence of life in an organism that's been alive is death.
If you're not living, if there's an absence of life in your
day-to-day routines, does that mean that you're dead? In
the film Harold and Maude, Maude, a 79-year-old woman who lives
her life as fully as possible, tells Harold, an 18-year-old
who's obsessed with death, that "A lot of people enjoy
being dead. But they're not dead really--they're just
backing away from life."
living your life, or are you existing? Have you ever sat
down and written out your goals and then worked to try to attain
them, or do you just hang around and wait to see what each day
will bring you? Do you come home and do stuff you love to
do, or do you just turn on the television set and let it
"entertain" you while you sit there passive, not
moving forward or adding to the value of your life? Or are
you so caught up in your 70-hour-a-week work life that there's
no time for reading to your kids, for taking walks with your
family, for writing letters to loved ones, for working on the
hobby that you love so much but which you've been neglecting for
YOUR LIFE to LIVE. It's a beautiful thought, one full of
awesome and glorious potential!