Before It’s Too Late

dalai lama today

Tomorrow will be too late to make the most of today.

I’ve always heard people say that at the end of life you’ll regret the memories you didn’t make more than the ones you did. Lately that’s started to resonate with me.

I’ve become scared of death over the last few years. I didn’t used to be. I always figured I’m pretty comfortable with what I expect to happen to me when I die.

My expectations haven’t changed too much, except that now I’ve grown up I’m a lot less sure that the future looks exactly like what I imagine. But I hate the idea of being done with life now. It really bothers me.

Do you ever stop and think, “How did this year go by so fast?” If you’re 20 or older, I know you do. I was talking recently with a friend at work, realizing the past year has flown by about as fast as a month used to drag on when I was 12.

A few years ago I was so obsessed with a few ideas–ideas about what my focus in this life had to be–that when I wasn’t getting exactly what I wanted in life, I welcomed the idea of death. I felt like death would be an easy way out. Didn’t bother me at all.

Enter the greatest friend I’ve ever had. I learned to stop taking myself so seriously. To stop analyzing life and start living it instead. She taught me to let go of my expectations, plans, determinations, desires, and just welcome life itself.

She taught me to stop obsessing over my idea of how life should go, open my eyes, and enjoy life as it is. She taught me to stop worrying, stop stressing, and just dance to life’s music.

Here’s why I don’t like the thought of coming to the end of life now. Life is absolutely awesome! Now I want to stick around forever just so I can experience every different amazing thing life has to offer. Every morning I wake up and think, “What do I get to do and see today???”

Now the idea that I’m going to have to move on to whatever’s next before I can learn every language, play every sport, read every book, meet every friend, hike every trail, build every career, and taste every food–that idea doesn’t sit too well with me.

A lot of people are scared of death because they don’t want to deal with whatever’s out there (or not). A lot of people embrace death because they think this life isn’t worth living. But I don’t want to die because I’ve only begun to realize how incredible this lifetime in this world really is.

Stop and think with me. Are we taking life for granted? Are we rushing from one day to the next? Are we plodding mindlessly toward the finish line? Because once we get there, there’s no starting over.

Or are we taking time to stop and smell the roses? How often do we slow down enough to open our eyes, look around, and just go “Wow!”

I think there are a lot more things to make us happy in this life than we’re willing to slow down and notice.

I think that when I get to my 60th or 70th birthday, if I look back and realize I lived life with my eyes closed, paralyzed by fear and insecurity, I will wish I could take it all back and have another shot.

I want to look back and say, “What a wild ride!” I want to remember enthusiastically grabbing all sorts of opportunities, welcoming and mastering challenges, looking for adventures.

Is life really hard and scary enough that we shouldn’t bother enjoying it? Or can we step out in courage and live life, with every little adventure, to the fullest, before we look back and realize it’s too late?

Author: Peter Elbridge

I am a lifelong learner and avid reader, which translates into doing smart work for myself, my team, and my clients. I have a passion for effective leadership and an even bigger passion for helping others do and feel better. I have a lot of experience in communication, public speaking, and writing. Above all, I have a deep and genuine care for every life I touch. That's why I write. (My opinions and endorsements are my own and do not represent my employer.)

One thought on “Before It’s Too Late”

  1. This is great, Peter. Yeah, life’s like that–mixed. Some good and some bad. So our feelings toward it aren’t realistic if they’re not mixed, too. But we don’t have to let life dictate our attitudes and expectations. We can embrace it and reshape it and “suck the marrow out of it,” come what may. I hope that attitude sticks in you as long as you live!

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