Monday, May 14, 2012

Life is short.

Naming my blog, almost 4 years ago (as I made the move to Hawaii), I was struck by this major life change, and yet how small it seemed in the grand scheme of things. The road we travel, and can travel, is so seemingly vast, so seemingly long, and has so many twists and turns to it. It feels like we need many life times to travel the road we would like to travel. There are so many things yet to do, no matter where we sit in life today.

I was reminded this past few weeks about how short life is. A colleague/friend from Hawaii died two weeks ago, a very short time after I had heard he was sick. One of the first things people seem to say when someone "our age" dies, is that life is short and that they were taken too soon. It gets me to wonder if he considered his life to be short before he died. It makes me wonder if I would consider my life to have been short if I died tomorrow.

The answer for me, is that I don't think I could consider my life to have been short. Yes, there is a long road still to travel, but if I look back at my past and see the things I have seen, done, experienced - I can't honestly say I haven't lived a full and eventful life. It hasn't all been ups, there have been many so very low lows; but that's all part of it. You can't go down a hill without climbing to great heights. I have loved, I have lost; I have been, I have come back. I have seen things less than a dozen people on the planet have ever seen or will ever see. I have been to places no one has ever been to before, to the bottom of the ocean and back. I have seen cultures alien to many, I have followed great leaders and I have led amazing students. It's been awe inspiring and amazing, and sure, it's been hard and emotionally crushing; but these are all things that have made the me I am today. And I am immensely happy with where, and who, I am today.

There is a long way to go, and i'm looking forward to seeing and experiencing it; but if I was to die tomorrow, it can't be said my life was short, it was full and eventful and beautiful. As for Kevin, we will never know what he considered. The same with my sister Sophie, and the (too many) friends I have lost in this journey. We will never know what they thought, just that we wish we could have known them for a little longer.

Events like this also make me step back and appreciate all I have. You could spend a lifetime chasing after those things you don't have, but the key, I think, is to realise all you need to be happy is right in front of you. If you appreciate everyday, you can indeed choose happiness.

So a poem to remind me of those who I cannot see anymore, but who i'd like to hope considered they too led a full life. This poem sits in the very first pages of my Ph.D. thesis, as I was dealing with the sudden loss of my sister.

Maggie and Millie and Molly and May
Went down to the beach to play one day

And Maggie discovered a shell that sang
So sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles

Millie befriended a stranded star
Whose rays five languid fingers were

And Mollie was chased by a horrible thing
Which raced sideways while blowing bubbles

May came home with a smooth round stone
As small as a world, and as large as alone

For whatever we lose, like you or me
It's always ourselves we find by the sea.

E.E. Cummings. 

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