Issue 46 December, 2016
Let go of the stocking to live in the moment
All this week, Facebook has been showing me festive photos I’ve posted in previous years. Jake staring at my older son’s Christmas stocking, shown here, is a classic.
Of course Jake had his own stocking (the bone in the middle); I am that kind of person. But whether his stocking was empty or stuffed with a toy and a yummy treat Christmas morning, our dog ignored it. I would come into the family room and find him there, staring straight at that puffy Ninja Turtle head. He obviously yearned to get his jaws on it.
Running across that photo of Jake made me think. Had I known December 2013 would be Jake’s last Christmas, I would have given him that longed-for sock. He’d have had the stuffing pulled out of it in minutes, if not seconds, tail wagging the entire time.
But I didn’t know. Instead, I let practical thoughts like “Don’t encourage him to see random objects in this house as his personal toys” get in the way of joy.
Having that “should have” thought reminded me of writer Patti Digh. In 2003, her stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer and died just 37 days later. The timeframe made an impression on her, resulting in a commitment to ask herself every morning: “What would I be doing today if I had only 37 days left to live?” She later turned the experience into a touching book, Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally.
That same sense of doing things differently when you know the timeline runs through former palliative nurse Bronnie Ware’s book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. She says people most regretted not having the courage to live a life true to themselves.
What does this have to do with communication? You could make the link to meaningful words, doing the right things, communicating from the heart, sparking conversation, being honest, not wasting time on jargon and BS.
But really, as 2016 winds down, I just want to encourage you to let go of the stocking. Don’t wait for the clarity of hindsight to bring joy where you can. Plan ahead, sure; but live in the moment. Cherish your friends and family and tell them you do.
Happy holidays, and thank you for being part of my Wordnerdery family.
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Jake's photo by Sue. Sue's photo: Rob Jeanveau of IABC/Golden Horseshoe.