I read this quote a while back that really got me thinking:
“At some point in your childhood, your mom picked you up and put you down, and never picked you up again.”
How true this is. The moment when we become too big to pick up comes slowly, but it comes surely. It’s an ending that neither we or our mothers probably realized was there until it was long gone. These types of quiet finales occur much more in our lives than I think we realize, and perhaps it’s time we pay more attention.
I’ve missed many endings and failed to make the most out of many moments because I was too focused on “next time.” I let the future be an excuse for my actions in the present. Common phrases such as “Let’s just do it next time” or “It’s okay, there’s always next time” evolved from just that to become deadly prompts of inaction.
The first “next time” moment that I remember was when my grandfather was being driven in an ambulance to the hospital. He had lung cancer and was hooked up to tubes everyday at home. I was young so I didn’t fully comprehend what was happening, but I remember thinking that it wasn’t really a big deal. It couldn’t have been. What was all the fuss when I could just see and talk to him again next time?
Of course there wasn’t a next time.
Another significant moment that I remember was with my first love. We had a long distance relationship, and I would drive a few hours to see her every other week. We fought a lot, but we would usually resolve things on the same day. One time we didn’t. I was mad and I felt like she should’ve apologized to me instead of the other way around. We put a band-aid on our emotions instead of fully making up, and I left to drive back home. It’s still such a clear memory to me. I remember the elevator doors closing as I watched her wave goodbye with a pained smile on her face.
“It’s whatever, I can just fix things up next time,” I thought. I’m sure you can guess how this story ends. We broke up over the phone a few days later, and that next time never came. It was a pretty crappy first love ending that I didn’t see coming, and one that I can never get back.
The discreet endings that we go through aren’t limited to just people and relationships. They apply to almost everything else as well. For example, think about the last time you ate at your favorite restaurant. The last time you visited your special place. The last time you participated in that certain hobby you like. Is there a next time for those moments? Or were those last times, the last time?
There is nothing guaranteed in life except for the moments you have right now. Your favorite restaurant could be closed next week. That friend that you haven’t kept in touch with could move away without you knowing. You could accidentally break your leg and not be able to do some of your passions anymore.
Regret is extremely powerful, and it’s not something you want in your life. You can’t count on a “next time” because sometimes there just isn’t. Countless final opportunities will pass you by without you even realizing. Make the most out of the present, and treat it like the present and gift that it really is. Hug that person that you love harder. Savor the scenery longer. Put more energy and soul into your actions.
Live every moment like it’s your last. Because it really could be.