My friend Bruce has a talent for changing the way I think. A few years ago he shared one single sentence that changed the way I hug, kiss, love and live. I consider these Bruceisms to be lightning bolt sentences.
It started when Bruce invited me on a motorcycle trip to Mexico with our mutual friend, Tex Earnhardt. I said I was too busy. That’s when Bruce uttered a lightning bolt sentence.
The conversation went something like this:
“Greg, have you ever seen one of those Mystery Spot signs on the highway,” Bruce asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“How often have you stopped?”
“Why not? Aren’t you curious.”
“Yes, but I’m usually in a hurry.”
“I’ll bet you thought, ‘I’ll see it next time.”‘
“Yeah, I’ve thought that a lot.”
“Greg, you never know when you’re doing something for the last time.”
Bruce continued, “most of us rush through life thinking we’ll live forever, taking for granted small but special opportunities that present themselves most every day. Hugging your child. Talking with your mom. Kissing the person you love. Even stopping to check out a Mystery Spot. Then something happens causing us to look back and realize it was the last time we’ll ever have that opportunity.”
Sometimes we know it’s the last time and sometimes we don’t.
When I sat on the lawn outside the vet’s office with tears streaming down my cheeks, I knew it would be the last time I’d hold my cancer stricken golden retriever.
When I hugged my parents goodbye after visiting them in Cincinnati I did not know it would be the last time I’d see my dad, Chubby.
I think the times we realize it’s the last time are rare. More often we figure there will be other opportunities. Then the unexpected strikes, and it’s too late to go back and truly appreciate that “never again” moment.
Getting older is making me more aware that each time could be the last time. A wistful comment we’ve all heard uttered by the “older generation” is, “those were the days.”
Admittedly, to be forewarned that a moment is a “last” would be both a blessing and a curse. You would appreciate its importance, but you could not help being emotionally impacted by the “last-ness” of the event, possibly ruining the moment.
Being acutely aware that each time could be the last time has enhanced my appreciation for seemingly small moments: lunches with friends, hugging my kids, kissing my love, and taking the time to stop at Mystery Spots.
These days I’m trying not to miss much and trying harder to appreciate little things more, even writing this article for you. I sure hope it’s not the last time for you or for me, but you never know, so I hope you enjoyed it.
“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”