As my dear grandmother fades away, about to cross life's finish line, I am reminded of several truths about these amazing experiences that we call our lives. We are often so busy at the treadmill of our daily work, obligations, or amusements, that we fail to notice certain facts about ourselves. We should take a step away from it all, once in a while, to think about the things we do, how and why we do them, and whether or not there is a better way. It helps to remember that:
1. All good things (and bad things) must come to an end. If we have a lot to be grateful for (and who doesn't?), we should approach life from a place of gratitude, taking time to appreciate both the journey itself and the little things along the way. If we have a lot of hardship in our lives, we should remember that it will not last forever. And if we are feeling overwhelmed, we should accept help to pull ourselves out of despair. As great as our troubles may seem, there are people in the world who are worse off than we are.
2. Freedom has its pros and cons. We enjoy our freedom in life, yet when things go wrong, we usually feel like assigning blame to others, even when we shouldn't. Sometimes we take this to the highest level, blaming God for tragedies in our lives. But do we really expect strategic intervention to happen every time something bad is about to happen? Such interference, benevolent though it would be, is not something we should demand. We shouldn't expect to only experience positive things in life, and never have to deal with the negative things. Life is not a bed of roses, but there are roses along the way... as well as thorns.
3. It's hard to see the big picture, until the final pieces are about to fall into place. And by the time the picture is nearly complete, we sometimes regret the way it looks. If we pay more attention along the way as we go about our jobs, care for our families, and make major life decisions, we can avoid some of that agonizing regret we might later face because of mistakes we made. Rather than making choices based on what is popular at the moment, we should think for ourselves and do our own research to inform ourselves, so we have solid reasons for the choices we make.
4. We should ask ourselves what is important to us. And, once we take a look at the things that are important to us, can we justify them? Will we realize that we have misplaced priorities? If our priorities are in the wrong place, will we change them? Or will we grow uncomfortable at this self-examination and decide to hop back on the treadmill of our busy lives instead?
Our Grandma Frieda Schultz (our dad's mom) passed away in Rochester, New York, on June 16th at 4:20 a.m., almost exactly one day to the hour after the writing of this article.