I’ve heard myself say “life is short” many a time over these years. I realized somewhat belatedly the other day that life isn’t necessarily short. It is, after all, the longest thing we do. And, while some lives are short, many live long lives. I have come to realize that what I meant to say all along is that life might be short. And, I think adding that might is rather important.
Whenever I think about this link between life and death, I am reminded of Dag Hammarskjöld’s profound quote – “In the last analysis it is our conception of death which decides our answers to all the questions life puts to us.” My encounters with death have taught me two things – treasure life and those who you love.
Death, to me, is the ultimate reminder that both life and the living are special. Love life. Build things that matter. Make it meaningful. Make it count. While you are it, remember to treasure those on the journey with you and those who choose to love you.
Treasuring those we love is very hard when we are in the pursuit of that elusive mistress – impact. It becomes much easier if we accept one fact – that our life might be short. While it might end up being long – it is a balance of probability after all – we are just so much better living it assuming it just might be shorter than we think or hope.
This is what makes being happy so difficult. It requires us to embrace the toughest of all paradoxes – to embrace the idea that we must build as if we’ll live forever while expressing love like there might be no tomorrow. This might not work. This might. It might not be short. It just might.
The tension of might is how we get made.