I have been thinking a lot lately about how short life is and how quickly it seems to go by.
In 8 weeks time I will be in Sydney and I can’t wait!! Whilst there I am hoping to catch up with an old uni friend who I haven’t seen in 16 years. 16 years!!! How have 16 years passed since uni? And where has it gone? How am I old enough to have been graduated over 16 years?
Only the other morning I was looking at baby photos of my little girl, Lucy, and it seems like overnight that baby is now nearly 8 years old and in the same time again, in what I have no doubt will feel like a blink of an eye, she will be nearly 16.
I should know better than most that life is short but so frequently I forget and I get consumed with the craziness of life, running from work to picking up Lucy from this, that and the other, to seeing friends, to sorting something for my mum and often falling into bed too exhausted to really think about the important stuff of life or to really live in the important moments, and so weeks and months and years pass by and suddenly it is 8 years since my baby arrived into my world and 16 years since I graduated from uni. Don’t get me wrong there are so many amazing moments and memories in those crazy busy weeks, months and years but sometimes I wonder whether I miss out on more of them.
Tragically a few weeks ago our church family had devastating news of a lovely bloke in his mid 30s passing suddenly leaving his gorgeous wife and kids. I have no doubt they took for granted the fact they had many years ahead of them as a family and rightly so. At the same time I have been watching one of my best friends as a member of her family battles cancer at a stupidly and frankly pretty shitty early age. These two situations have affected me deeply.
My lovely daddy bravely fought cancer for 3 years before losing his battle just over 18 months ago. To my dad work/career and to a large extent status/success were his priority – he owned his own business and with that came an immense amount of stress and pressure. In my eulogy at my dad’s funeral I talked about how the last 6 years I had with him, the years after losing John, had been the most precious. During those 6 years he loved and encouraged me when I was at my foulest and probably my most unlovable, and it was also during those years that I learnt the true worth of him as we spent many hours talking and grieving and just being – beauty from the ashes. My dad knew that his life was coming to an end and I think losing John, then his own father and then facing his own mortality changed my dad in significant and positive ways. On one occasion when I was stressing about work (unfortunately a major factor of my life!!!) he told me that he had realised that all the years he had spent worrying and stressed about work (yes that is where I have inherited it from) had not been worth it.
I am guilty of putting myself under significant pressure work wise and setting very high expectations, to meet my targets and exceed them, and to obtain the best possible results therefore regularly battling with stress and anxiety. This is partly due to my background and the whole success thing that I feel is expected from the paternal side of my family, but like many I get self worth from achievement and success.
So as I have been thinking about how short life is I have been thinking about what is really important and how I want to live my life, what and who I want to invest it in and how I want to look back and see my life. I want to work hard and do the very best in that work, and succeed and do well, because I believe that is what God has called me to do but there has to be a balance, there has to be perspective and my life cannot be driven by the size of my pay packet or being successful in that corporate culture. Above all when my turn comes to go home I want any career successes to be way down the list – I want people to say she loved her God and her people hard and good, that she was kind, compassionate and committed, and that she had fun and enjoyed the journey home. I have some way to go to in getting there and there maybe things I need to let go of, probably some deeply held attitudes and expectations. I know that probably before I get there there will be more bumps in the road, dramas and more tough times, because that is the reality of life, but I also know there will also be many more happy times, many more amazing people to love and cherish and plenty of adventures to be had and I intend to embrace them.