Don’t pass it by–the immediate, the real, the only, the yours. -Henry James
Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life. – Mark Twain
I had a German Shepherd. Her name was Gypsy. One of my daughters painted a portrait of Gypsy I keep hanging on a wall. If you’ve had a pet you’ve considered a friend, you can understand the relationship I had with Gypsy.
She was an athlete. She could run with the wind. Catch Frisbees tossed at seemingly impossible angles. I’d toss a tennis ball sixty feet in the air and she’d snag as if she were playing centerfield in the majors. Most of all, Gypsy was a friend. Where I’d go, Gypsy wouldn’t be far behind. I’d often go in the yard with Gypsy to relax. She had a way of helping me forget work and setting aside other things holding my mind captive.
Today, I picture Gypsy lying on the ground in front of me. She has a look in her eye, partly mischevious, partly playful, and always loving. In my mind’s eye, I ask Gypsy, “Tell me about life, Gypsy. You enjoy every moment. What’s your secret?”
Gypsy cocks her head a bit to the side and gives me a quizzical look. She says, “Ray, what’s all the fuss? Lighten up.”
“Easy for you to say Gypsy. Cut me a little slack.”
Gyspy shakes her head, “I’m going to give you special dog secrets.”
I look incredulously at her, “Dog secrets?”
“That’s right, dog secrets. Heads up. If you nod off, I’ll wake you with a ferocious bark.”
“I’m all ears, don’t take that remark personally.”
I think she is smiling. Some claim dogs don’t smile, but I believe Gypsy smiled all the time.
Gypsy says, “Don’t interrupt me. I’m giving you wisdom that’s evolved in the canine breed over ions.”
“Whenever you get a chance, curl up in the sun and enjoy its warm rays. If you can do it on the sofa, all the better. When someone you love comes through the door, meet them, greet them, and hug them. Whatever food is served, be grateful for it, it’s all good and it’s all going to the same place. Get exercise – plenty of it. Exercise is always better when you’re doing it with someone you love. Most of all, enjoy the moment. Don’t think ahead. Tomorrow comes quick enough. And, be loyal, protect those you love. After all, we’re family. It’s all good, Ray. It’s all good,
Thank you, Gypsy. Thank you for your enduring wisdom.
The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Not a day goes by where life doesn’t teach me a lesson. Most days I’m too busy to listen to what life is trying to teach me. There are times when I have no choice but to listen. Nine months ago life knocked me down. I lay flat on my back. Life towered over me and said, “You’re going to listen to me. You’ve no choice. Whether you take to heart the lesson I’m going to give you is up to you. But you will listen to what I have to say.” Tough words from a tough teacher.
It’s strange how life’s challenges always come down to a choice. I have the freedom to choose. I can choose to hear life’s lesson, learn from it, and grow. Or, I can hear it, refuse to embrace it, and shrivel. It’s always my choice. The ultimate freedom.
Losing someone I deeply loved knocked me flat on my back. I chose not to stay down, but to get up and learn the lessons life is trying to teach this reluctant learner. The words of Saint Francis of Assisi sum up many of life’s lessons for me. It’s my job to live them more fully day by day. Life will continue to teach me each day until my days are over and by that time I hope to have learned and applied all I need to go on to the next part of my journey.
Lessons From Life
There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go. ~Author Unknown
Why does it take so long to acquire wisdom? I consider myself intelligent. I earned a doctorate. I had a stellar career in higher education. Yet, I am a slow learner. My uneducated dad would tell my brother and me we had a great education, but the university forgot to teach us common sense. I always got a laugh out of that one.
In my dad’s lived experience of growing up with ten siblings, raised by a single mom after his father died, living through the great depression, and fighting in WW II allowed him to gain human wisdom. He called it common sense. He learned early on the things life is now teaching me. I learned:
- Trusting God is better than asking why.
- Living in the present moment is better than living in the past.
- Having a hope-filled heart is better than having a bitter heart.
- Knowing love wins, love always wins is better than not knowing or ever having experienced love.