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   Awareness of impermanence is encouraged, so that when it is coupled with our appreciation of the enormous potential of our human existence, it will give us a sense of urgency that I must be in every precious moment.     Tenzin Gyatso (the 14th Dalai Lama)

Awareness of impermanence is encouraged, so that when it is coupled with our appreciation of the enormous potential of our human existence, it will give us a sense of urgency that I must be in every precious moment.

Tenzin Gyatso (the 14th Dalai Lama)

Recently, I’ve been feeling all too acutely the preciousness and brevity of life. A few weeks ago, a beautiful friend, whom I’d known for almost 20 years (though hadn’t seen in a while since he moved to Singapore), died very suddenly of a brain haemorrhage.  He was in his mid-forties and left behind a wonderful life with his wife and three young children. Closer to home, a good friend, around the same age, was diagnosed some months ago with a secondary cancer for which there is no long term cure.

As some of you know, I too have come up against my own mortality. If you didn’t know and are interested in reading my story, you can do so here. This experience, gut-wrenching as it was, instilled in me a deep-seated desire to make the most of my life. At the time, I really wasn’t sure how much longer that life would be. I’m still not. Not because I’m at all likely to now die from that particular condition. But because none of us can know.

Many of us assume we will get to live the biblical ‘three score years and ten’ (which has increased a little since those times!). Once upon a time, I certainly did. And even though we’re unlikely to get run over by that proverbial bus, the truth is we just can’t know what lies in store for us.  

I share all this with you not in any way to dampen your spirits, but as a reminder. A reminder to all of us, myself included - because I, too, can still all too easily forget -  to live this life we are graced enough to be gifted with (and yes, it can be a challenging and painful and crazy ‘gift’ that at times doesn’t feel like one!) as richly and fully as we possibly can.

There are many things which can hold us back from living expansively. Fear can be one; we might be afraid to take the risks that are an inherent part of doing so, requiring us to move out of the safety of our comfort zone and to explore new and unfamiliar territories. Or we might make excuses and procrastinate: I’ll do this when I am thinner/richer/less stressed and so on.  Or perhaps we don’t think we’re deserving of the things we really long for.

But there really is nothing like seizing the moment and doing our best to live our lives with as much passion and joy as we can, given our particular circumstances. For me, there are two pillars to doing so. The first is getting clear on what it is I truly want and doing what I can to try and sculpt those desires into reality. The second is being grateful for all I do already have in this moment; for the numerous tiny gifts that appear each day, as well as the bigger ones such as my health, my family and friends, having a roof over my head. When we remember that everything is ephemeral and nothing can be taken for granted, it is so much easier to see this world as a miracle.
 
The days, weeks, month and years speed past. I feel that even if I am blessed enough to live until my eighties or nineties, this life will pass me by way too fast. And I imagine I will depart it feeling I have not tasted all I wanted to taste. So all I can do is to try and make the most of whatever time I do have here.
 
Wishing you a happy summer solstice! Can this natural high point of the year inspire us to inject some of that radiance into our own lives.