“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight with no vision.” —Helen Keller
Nothing stays the same forever. Everything changes—sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly.
This past summer, I spent some time away from home. We visited family in Nebraska and South Dakota and enjoyed a few nights in Colorado. Our trip was lovely. I’m thankful to have such a family where even ten days together seems too short.
There were many enjoyable and memorable moments during our trip, but there is one 24-hour period that sticks out to me. In the span of one short day during our visit to South Dakota, three distinct events occurred.
First, I helped my 92-year old grandfather maneuver into his home in his wheelchair. Last December, while at work, he fell and broke his femur. His healing continues but with various setbacks. Doctors are confident he will walk again, but it will be another 5-6 months. In the meantime, he still works full-time—but with considerable inconvenience. This was the first time I had seen firsthand the full extent of his injuries.
Second, I drove past the home of Don Meyer. Don Meyer, a close family friend, was once the all-time winningest college basketball coach. One month ago today, at the age of 69, Don lost his battle with cancer. His cancer was first discovered in 2008 following a car accident that resulted in the amputation of his left leg. He is survived by his wife, Carmen, who now lives in their home alone.
Third, while driving to my brother’s house later that evening, I came upon an awful car accident with crushed automobiles, injured bodies, and deep pain. The scene was hard for anyone to witness. The physical and emotional pain will continue for the drivers—and extend almost certainly to their families as well.
24 hours. Three unique stories. Each with little in common except for one life-transforming thread: Sometimes events happen in the blink of an eye that change the course of our lives forever.
When we least expect it, tragedy can strike. And it often does, in an instant. With little to no warning, our lives are turned upside-down forever.
I was reminded this past summer that nobody is guaranteed their health for another day—it can be taken suddenly by accident or diagnosis. Nobody is guaranteed the presence of their spouse for another day. None of us are even guaranteed breath in the morning.
The foolish scoff at this pronouncement assuming tragedy will never strike. Those in denial will refuse to accept it or simply try to change the subject.
But those who recognize and accept the truth that life is fragile live their lives fully in light of it. (tweet that)
Those who understand life can be changed forever in the blink of an eye will seek to:
- Find joy and gratitude in their present blessings. They will recognize every good thing in life is a fragile gift.
- Remove fleeting pursuits. Our lives are too valuable to waste chasing and maintaining unneeded possessions.
- Overcome the past and not make assumptions about the future. Instead, they will live each day in the present.
- Make the most of every opportunity. Forgive who needs to be forgiven. Express love and gratitude to those who deserve to hear it.
- Live lives of significance. Each new day is an opportunity to make a difference. Don’t waste it.
Our lives are fragile. They can change in an instant. Live today in light of this truth—and carry no regrets.
I’ve always loved your post Joshua ang my life has changed a lot since I encountered becoming minimalist. I am currently pursuing for a post graduate degree and when I read this post I suddenly realized I am missing so much joy in life with this career pursuit. I miss the simple joys of simply living.
Hi, my uncle passed away last night after a long struggle. I believe he had found peace. My life motto is that life goes by with the blink of an eye. And the quote has become even more important to me now I have kids.
I just want to say that it is such a pleasant change to read supportive comments from an online community such as this one, you are all so positive and inspirational. Thank you, I want to stay in this space :)
Jessica Ferroni says
I, too, experienced a “blink of an eye” trio of events this past year. First, the loss of our first pregnancy. Exactly a week later, my father-in-law had a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery. Two months later, my parents were in a terrible highway accident, leaving one person dead. Thankfully, our parents are ok after all of this. However, I have found it very difficult to stop analyzing everything that happened.
I appreciate your article and I agree that life should be enjoyed in the moment and that pettiness should be put aside for true happiness. One problem I have, though, is that there is so much pressure to “live life to the fullest” and “pure your true passions” that I feel overwhelmed and constantly question if I’m doing what I should be. This causes me anxiety and guilt. Do you have any suggestions on how to find the middle ground and navigate between living my best life and worrying about whether I am, in fact, doing so?
Kerri Arceo says
For the reasons you convey in your post I try to live my life with MS as a gift which forces me to accept change and enjoy the life I ‘m blessed to have. Love is the only thing that lasts. Thank you.
This post is about my life with my beautiful husband of almost 30 years. On top of the world in every aspect of our lives. Got a tummy ache one day and 6 months later he was gone. Yes, life is fragile and one never knows. I live to honor him. I live to honor our son…and I choose life because he wouldn’t want it any other way. We didn’t both work and strive for what we accomplished for me to shrivel up and die with him. Not to say the last 23 months haven’t been extremely hard, but I choose life. Here’s to you my dear sweet man.
Gary Mitchell says
My mother who sadly died at 42 with breast cancer that was treatable but she opted to avoid any western medicine because she was Christian Science raised. Opened my eyes at that ripe age of 11 to be aware, to look and feel and touch. Years later after being involved in three shooting incidents as a police officer, I firmly believe I have things yet to accomplish, I look, and feel and touch, and who knows what moment will present it self that will bring it all into focus, for the pure nature of delving into what ifs will surely bring one down. So for the time being I wake up breathing and call that a good start on a day, and look forward to what minor miracles await me.