I attended a funeral last week, and I was reminded once again how fleeting life is. Precious and fragile.
Like many, I used to think about life as a time line. I was born here. In the far off distance was the point of my death.
But life isn’t a time line. Sure, it is if you want to take a step back and look at your life objectively. Or if you want to look at the life lived by someone else.
But not for us. Not as we’re living it.
Instead, I know think about life as a line, but not a time line. I imagine life as a line (a wire, if you will) stretched across a great chasm. The end of the wire is far in front of us, and we can’t see the other side. We’re on this line somewhere in the middle.
We look ahead, and unfortunately, a great fog has rolled in. (Yeah, of all the days for it to be foggy, it would have to be today, right?) We can see just a little in front of us, but even it is difficult to see.
But the fog obstructs our view beyond the next step or two.
We look behind. The fog is there, but not as thick. We can see where we’ve come from. We can see what’s in our past – accomplishments, regrets, loved ones who have been a part of our life, places we’ve been, things we’ve done. But there is a fog around the edges of everything – obstructing some things almost completely, and making it hard to see other things as clearly as we’d like.
And below us, there is nothing but fog. We know there is a great drop below us, but we can’t see what’s at the bottom of this chasm.
Each day, we take another step. Just one. That step reveals just a little more about the future, which morphs into the present. But the fog is so thick, we still can’t see much more in front of us.
We’ve got one of those poles that us navigate, and the balance it provides is the same one we try to maintain with our family and career, health and day-to-day activities. The services we try to give back to our loved ones and community while also trying to fulfill our own needs.
It’s precarious. And we never know what when we’re going to finally slip, falling off our lifeline. Sure, we can choose not to take another step forward. We can let fear stop us. We can try to maintain our balance right where we are. You may have even seen some who have knelt down and just hold on to the line, refusing to move forward.
But at some point, we’re all going to fall off . . . whether we choose to move forward or not.
We never know when that fateful day will come, that day when we finally lose our balance and fall off. We never think it’s going to be today, but at the same time, we never know. The step saved for tomorrow is never a sure thing.
That’s why it’s so important to make today’s step as special as possible. Do all you can with today’s step forward. Let those special people in your life know just how important they are.
Pass along a bit of kindness to others. As I tell students in my class, being courteous costs just the same as being rude.
Remember to tell those in your life that you love them. That you support them. And that you’ll help them as much as you can on their own journey.
And remember to pass along that encouraging word to the person crossing the chasm next to you. Because sometimes it’s those words of encouragement, those words of love and affirmation, that help others face the unknown in front of them. And take the next step that they might not have taken otherwise.