How much time do you have?
This afternoon I was home with my five-year-old daughter who’s out of school on break this week. She was just trying on her new birthday dress and fancy shoes we got to celebrate her turning six this weekend. She twirled around gracefully while soft music played in the background and a cozy fire crackled in our wood stove.
I couldn’t help but get caught up in the moment watching her spin around on the living room floor, head held high like a princess, insisting that I hold a long scarf behind her pretending it was a train to her wedding gown.
Suddenly she seemed so grown up and yet she had put her new shoes on the wrong feet… again.
I realized that, not only was her sixth birthday a passage into being a “BIG girl”, but it was a moment that I knew would become lost as most precious things are with time.
Tears welled up in my eyes and I held her close and danced with her and our little dog Ladybug sandwiched between us. She could see my emotion and asked if something was wrong. Choking back the tears that spilled from my eyes, I told her that one day I would be old enough to forget this moment.
She paused for a moment, looked back at me, and asked “How long do you have?”.
To be honest, her question left me a little stunned. I paused too and then gave her the only answer I could. “I don’t know. None of us know.”
I explained to her that life is precious and, in my own mind, I silently recounted the four of five people I knew who had passed away around me in just the last month or so. I was not necessarily close to them, still their deaths brought a keener awareness to the fragile and uncertain nature of all life; including my life and yours.
My little birthday girl and I held each other and cried in grieving what we knew would someday come; expressing our love until the moment passed. Eventually we went about our day, taking on little tasks until it was time to go.
In the end, we don’t know when our lives will end, or when jobs will end, or relationships will end. Perhaps the only thing we can really ever be certain of is that OPPORTUNITY does end, often in mere seconds.
Let me simply guess that there is some kind of important opportunity on the verge of ending for YOU this very instant. Permit me to encourage you not to let it pass without bold action, without speaking the naked truth, without feeling the feelings you might otherwise run away from. That is what it means to be courageous and to live into the opportunities you are graced with; to be a hero for yourself and to seize the unpromised chance you have to be FULLY ALIVE.