Sally Meyerhoff was killed yesterday in a cycling accident. She was, from what I have read in her blog, excitedly training for her new adventure as a professional triathlete. What follows is one of the last paragraphs written in Sally Meyerhoff’s blog on Sunday. You can read it all at http://runsalm3.blogspot.com/2011/03/way-overdue.html, along with many of Sally’s other writings in her blog Run Sal.
“I cannot express how HAPPY I am with where I am in my life right now though, and how grateful I feel for being able to do what I do. I just wouldn’t trade it for anything and any time I am feeling not very motivated, I think about how miserable I feel when I am not training or doing something else I don’t LOVE. I totally and completely love this life I’m living and the most fabulous thing is that I know it’s only going to get 20 times better by the end of the year. Woo hoo baby!”
It’s so fragile, this life we lead. One moment we feel like Sally did, and the next moment we are gone.
I did not know Sally Meyerhoff. I wish I had. And as I read several of Sally’s blogposts, I felt that this post of my own could go several different ways. I could take the “life is short, play hard” route, or the “be careful out there on the road” route but I knew with the greatest certainty that it would go as it will.
It was in 1982, that Dr. James Loehr uttered the words, “savoring the moment, being right here, right now, loving every minute of it,” in a track clinic I attended in Phoenix, AZ. Best lesson I have ever received. Since that day, I have tried to teach that lesson in everything from better running and racing, to delivering more relevant presentations, to providing superior customer service. Mostly, I have attempted, in my own way, to live my life in the moment, knowing that it’s the only guaranteed place we have. I’m not as good at it as I’d like, but I keep working at it, there is plenty of time, right?
Sally’s writings seem to draw the picture of a young woman with a passion for her life, and it seems, an appreciation for the moment. I don’t sense that she did things half assed and she certainly didn’t focus on the “what if” or “if only” parts of her world. Sally seemed, as much as I could tell, firmly planted in her present, with bright hopes for how that present would formulate her future. Sally Meyerhoff was definitely working on it, there would be plenty of time, right?
Sadly, the answer is not yes or no. Sadly, or maybe joyously, the answer is we don’t know. We don’t know whether there is plenty of time. We don’t know when our moment here will cease to exist. So what do we do?
I can’t speak for you, but I will take a page from Sally’s book. I will be “HAPPY with where I am in my life right now,” and be “grateful for being able to do what I do.”
I’m in California on a marathon vacation (that doesn’t mean it’s a long one, it means I ran a marathon on my vacation). I have a plane reservation for home tomorrow. The plan today, is to have a great day because we don’t know when our next vacation is going to happen. I think most all of us think that way. It’s the vacation mindset.
Well, maybe Sally’s death is reminding me that this life is like a vacation, but one with an unknown plane reservation at the end. This vacation – this life – is it. And without getting into any sort of existence type debate with anyone (which I refuse to do: religion and politics are no-nos), I’m not sure it gets any better once we leave or that the next reservation has even been booked. Because I don’t know when this life-plane leaves, maybe I need to begin living my life as if it’s the last day of a glorious vacation. And if I am fortunate enough to string together a lifetime of those glorious vacation days, I would end up with one heck of a life. I could get out of the “look what they did to me” or “look what they made me do” moments. I could let go of the past, love the moment and embrace what that moment is building. What would be wrong with that? Well, there’s plenty of time, right?
I think it would be great if the second you died, you could look back on the days you spent here and say/think/feel, “That was a very cool life. Nice job by me!”
Sally Meyerhoff was killed yesterday. I hope/pray/wish/believe that she was able to say, “Nice job by me.”
It’s so fragile, this life we lead.