Life and those you love is what matters in the end

By Kelly Hockenberry, Columnist, The Times

Last Saturday was my birthday. Normally, I would start this article with some type of self-deprecating remark about being old as dirt, but I’m turning over a new leaf. Over the past few weeks, I’ve witnessed the heartache of several people close to me that made me reevaluate my tendency to joke about life. Not that I don’t think that there is some value in levity….I do.

However, I was in a mood to reflect on the bigger, existential questions like: “Why are we here? What is my legacy? Who/what is important in the grand scheme of things?”

Heavy, right? I know.

After a lot of soul searching, combined with the wisdom of my years, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars I’ve spent in school, I’ve come to the conclusion that these philosophical inquiries HAVE NO EASY ANSWER.

I guess that’s why they have been discussed and debated for centuries. But, that’s not an excuse not to consider them from time to time. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to bury our heads in the sand when the going gets rough. If we ignore feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, unhappiness, etc., it will manifest in some way in the future.

The solution is to communicate before things get out of hand. If we learn to accept life as a journey of highs and lows maybe that helps to take the pressure off. We all experience situations we wish we could go back in time and erase. Relationships end, jobs are lost, people get sick, and it feels like nothing will go right again. But, that is precisely the time when those closest to you are imperative. The older I get, the more I realize that my family and friends are all that truly matter in this world.

One of my oldest friends from my childhood lost her father after a very brief illness. At his funeral, she spoke about what brought him happiness in life: relaxing with his wife, daughters, and grandchildren, playing tennis with friends, watching the sunset at the beach. Simple things. But, meaningful things. He said that looking back over the span of his life, he realized how fortunate he was and that he had no regrets. I think that is inspiring.

So, when I blew out my candles this birthday, I took advantage of the opportunity to make a wish for the year ahead : be present, let go of comparison, embrace my flaws, talk honestly, and enjoy the ride. Because, life is short and the time we have is too precious to waste.

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