Thursday, January 3, 2008

Go big. Live large.

It doesn't feel all that new, this New Year. In fact, when I read the newspaper or watch the news on TV, I wonder if any of it's new. It all seems so repetitive, so the same, so continuous, so depressing. Murder, wars, burning buildings and riots.

Note to self: Quit reading the newspaper. Quit watching the news.

The news did not bring good tidings of joy on New Year's day. A close friend of Alexis, a young man she graduated from high school with and the boyfriend of one of her closest friends, was hit by a car early New Year's morning while walking home from the restaurant where he works. He's in ICU, critical condition, but the prognosis yesterday improved. They're waking him every two hours. He's communicating, albeit on a limited basis with care-givers, but he's on the road to healing.

The accident shook everyone up. Yesterday, he was to have left for Mexico to enjoy a one week break before joining up with his University professor and fellow students for a one month work term in Mexico City.

How quickly life can change.

For this young man, operations to repair the damage to his leg, his head, a lengthy hospital stay, therapy, have arisen on his horizon. Life has shifted its focus. Where once healing the world, creating a better environment were on his agenda (his degree is in urban and environmental studies), healing his wounded body and spirit will now take precedence.

For Alexis, amidst the sadness, her anticipation rises as she prepares to leave for a four month trip around the world. Australia, New Zealand, Thailand. "Want to meet me in India?" she asked me yesterday. And then, in her next breath, "Do you have a valid passport mummy?"

"Yes," I replied. "Remember, your sister and I went to Phoenix in February last year."

"Oh good," she sighed with relief. "I just wanted to ensure you could travel.... In case something happens to me." The consciousness of the fragility of life.

Along with her childhood friend and her friend's brother, she booked her flights yesterday, made preliminary plans for where to go, what to do, when, how.

How quickly life opens up with opportunity shuttered between the brackets of 'just in case' and 'what if'....

For me, a coffee with an old friend reminded me of the importance of friendships, the relevance of staying in touch. We laughed and joked, told stories; about ourselves, about our families, our adventures in living. And then he told me about a friend's son who while out one night at the bar, tried to break up a fight and is now fighting to regain use of his right arm. He was a troubled youth who, at 25 has found his purpose -- art school. And now? Schooling is on hiatus as he recovers from knife wounds that severed several nerves in his arm.

"Life is tough," my friend said.

"Yes, it can be," I replied.

It's not the tough spots that test our mettle, though. It's how we respond to make the toughness soften into something we can work with, deal with, create value from.

Note to self: Create value in all things.

I mentioned Alexis was planning on going back to University when she returns from her travels. He said, "Tell her to go big. Best school. Best professors. Best contacts for her chosen career (broadcasting/ journalism)."

Go big.

This is my one and only wild and precious life. Live large. Live wild at heart. Live free.

The question is: How large are you living? Are you hiding your light, or are you living wild at heart, lighting a path for all the world to see?

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