While walking with my son at the park, something caught my eye on the path just ahead. It was a leaf. I had seen it drop, spiraling from the tree just moments earlier.
It landed without a sound about six feet in front of me. It landed and just sat there on the path. I stood there, staring at it.
I don’t know what I expected it to do, maybe scream as it was falling, or act like it was choking to death because, afterall, it was the end for the leaf.
I stared at the brown, shriveled replica of what just weeks previously had been a lush, green leaf. It had lived its season. Had its time, and now, it was done.
You probably know where I am going with this.
Sometimes we forget to think of our lives as a once and done deal.
We live rather lazily. We let days, weeks, years, even whole lifetimes pass before acting on things we know we should. We are lulled into believing our life will go on forever or at least as long as we want it to.
I remembered a story Michael told me…
It was about a doctor who worked with cancer patients. He had to relay the bad news of the severity of their cancer to many of his patients face to face. “You only have 5 or 6 months to live, so prepare,” he found himself saying over and over. After receiving this news, he noticed his patients would often respond in one of two ways.
Either they would dive into deep depression and continue out their last months in despair, or they would make radical changes in their lives, and start doing the things they always wanted to do.
They would do things like:
- quit the job they had hated for years and travel the world with their loved one.
- take flying lessons, or start mountain climbing.
- fly kites with their grandchildren and watch sunsets with their spouses.
- make radical changes in their relationships, mending strained friendships, and restoring relationships gone bad with family.
All the walls would go down, the excuses as to why they couldn’t, or shouldn’t do something were gone.
They had no excuses anymore. It was the end, so they decided to live the way they had always wanted to, but never had.
The doctor began noticing something remarkable. The cancer would not only stop growing, in many cases it would disappear completely!
I remember thinking. “What just happened? Are you telling me it is not only nice to pursue dreams, but so important, our lives actually depend on it?”
Did I just say that?
I think we have expectations in life. We have dreams of how certain things are going to play out.
When life throws us curveballs, instead of ducking, we get smacked in the head and never quite recover. We then blame the ball or the person who threw it instead of taking responsibility and learning why we got hit and how to avoid it in the future.
We get in so deep and become so entangled in the complexity of life, changing often looks too big, too overwhelming.
But, it’s not. That is just a lie.
Just because you got hit once, doesn’t mean your life is over. We all get hit. It’s the getting back up, brushing yourself off, shaking off the confusion and moving on that is important.
I think this story brings up some powerful questions:
- What exactly happens to our dreams when they are pushed aside?
- Do dreams just go away or do they manifest themselves in other ways throughout our body, such as anger, depression, ulcers, and cancer?
- And why do many of us need a wake up call like a terminal illness before we get our butts in gear, address the issues in our lives, and take our dreams seriously?
I decided to pick up the fallen leaf as I walked. I held it carefully, and when I arrived home, I taped it to the inside of my planner. I wrote beside it,
“Everyone has their season. Mine is now, don’t waste another moment!”
Question: What curveballs has life thrown you? Have you gotten back up?