In literature, it’s been said that comedies end with weddings and tragedies with funerals.
Since we are all mortal, does that make life ultimately tragic?
In the face of death, much of what has consumed our attention and energy over a lifetime seems futile and worthless. Who on their deathbed wishes that he had had spent more time at work, more nights drinking or more weekends cross-border shopping? Who after losing someone they had loved wishes they had won every argument?
The tragedy in life is that we rarely devote our attention to what matters most and that people die not knowing how much they were loved. The comedy in life is that we squander so much time and anxiety over a house of cards, arguing about matters that won’t make a difference at the end of life, and collecting and hoarding things we can’t take with us.
Life is limited, and it can be precarious and unpredictable. We are tossed from extremes of hot and cold, wet and dry, hunger and satisfaction. Life at times can be unfair. We and our relationships are imperfect. But all of this makes each day, your life and everyone in it all the more precious.
This day will never come again. You will never be this young. You will never have all the people that you have in your life today.
Live today. Live fully, and live mindfully.
But don’t squander the limited hours of this day fretting about losing what you already have, grieving what you have already lost, and wanting something more in the future. Happiness is not lost in the past nor is it a place in the future when everything is right. Enjoy what you have right now. Be happy today.
This year, I began what you might call a gratitude journal. I call it my “Book of Good”. I’ve written about the wonderful, timeless, love-filled, joyful experiences of my life. These are the moments, hours and days of my life where I have found happiness.
I remember the kind, loving words of my mother and father, and their wise advice about friends, relationships and life that I still remember word for word. I remember every Christmas Day and all that my parents did to make each one wonderful.
I remember my mother’s great cooking, the flavor of roast beef, and texture of roasted potatoes. I remember my mom taking me to doctor’s appointments, and spending hours at my bedside when I was in hospital.
I remember my dad suturing a bad laceration on my leg. He taught me how to use every tool in the workshop, how to change a tire and how to polish shoes. I remember the stories and the laughter around the table at dinner time.
My journal continues with the joys of being a dad when my children were small and the whole world was full of newness and adventure. It continues with the joys of today with each of my children’s unique personalities and their emerging talents.
Buy a hardcover journal from the dollar store, and begin writing today. What are your happiest memories of childhood? What were your favourite meals? What did your mom and dad do for you? What did they teach you? Who taught you how to ride a bike and tie your shoes?
What was the kindest thing that someone did for you? Who loved you the most? What did it feel like to fall in love for the first time? What was your favourite toy as a child? What are the greatest things you have done for someone else?
These are the moments that make you smile. These are the moments that make this life worthwhile.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a physician at PrimeCare Medical. His Healthwise column appears regularly in the Vancouver Courier and his internet radio show, Positive Potential Medicine can be heard on pwrnradio.com.