September 4, 1989 is the day my mother died. I was sixteen years old. For everyone else in the United States, it was Labor Day, but for me, it will always be the day my mother died.
That day, I learned how fleeting life is. One moment you’re here, breathing earth’s air, and the next moment, you’re not. It may sound cliché, but it’s true what they say: tomorrow is not promised. I’m not sure who said this; however, “Remember the past, plan for the future, but live for today, because yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come” is accurate.
I hate to sound grim, but it really is a great sentiment, and I was able to learn it at an early age. The notion that any of us could die at any moment is always in the back of my mind. It informs how I function in my personal and professional life.
For example, in my relationships, I’m known for clearing the air. If I feel as if we’re having an issue, then I’m the person who will approach a friend or family member to have a conversation so we can improve our relationship. I’d hate to wake up the next morning to find out someone I loved died, while having an issue looming over my head that could’ve been resolved the day before.
In my professional life, I always like to evaluate why I’m working at a particular job. If I’m working somewhere that doesn’t work for me, I’ve been known to find a new job. Life is too short to endure working conditions that don’t suit us. There’s a job looking for someone just like you. Why waste your waking hours doing something that isn’t suitable? Why not find an occupation aligned with your passion? And if that’s not possible, why not find a career that allows you time or money to work on your passion?
Life. Is. Too. Short.
Some may hear this as living in fear. But I disagree. There’s a difference between fearing death and being aware that our time on earth is limited. With the former, you may actually be stunted. With the latter, you’re being honest about our limitations as human beings. And if you’re honest about your mortality, then it can free you to live the life you’ve dreamed of or to have the relationships you deserve.
Although I wish my mother wouldn’t have died thirty-two years ago, I’m happy I was able to learn such a profound lesson so early in life. I hope that it doesn’t take extreme conditions for you to also wake up and live.