Last summer, as I waited to pay for something I needed at an art store, I noticed some attractive necklaces displayed by the cash register. Upon closer examination I saw they were all of the same theme: large charms with vintage photos of women doing all kinds of things from shopping to washing dishes. When I turned them over to look at the back I discovered something which captured my attention. Each necklace charm had a quote on the back. Most were cute or silly about being feminine. Two of them, however, were such amazing quotes that I left my place in line and jotted down the words in a blank space in the back of my checkbook.
Neither charm revealed who spoke the quotes, and only yesterday when I decided to share them with you did I do an internet search. I expected to find they were by “anonymous” but I was very surprised to find out two well-known persons said them. I’m going to talk about one of them today, and save the second quote for another blog post after Thanksgiving.
The first quote I found at the art store had been altered from its original form when added to the necklace to add more fun to it, but the message wasn’t changed:
“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - a wine glass in one hand and chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up and totally worn-out, screaming at the top of your lungs: ‘Woo Hoo, What a Ride!’ "
The original text of this quote was written by famed author and journalist, Hunter S. Thompson. You can read his exact words HERE.
It’s a very powerful statement, that we only live once and are meant to enjoy all the gifts we are given to their fullest extent. For those of us with chronic pain and/or illness, it’s important advice to remember but it does need to be balanced. With our body limitations and medical needs, we do need to live more cautiously when it comes to the physical. However, if we pace ourselves and resolve not to let life pass us by, we can discover creative ways to experience new things and savor life. The key is not to allow ourselves to curl into a ball and just give up. To tie it into another quote, the amazing Mattie Stepanek (who I wrote about last week) had it right when he said on his deathbed, “Do not breathe simply to exist."
I most certainly understand how hard that can be, having fought my own demons of depression and struggling against completely giving in. Thompson’s quote is one we should all keep taped to the mirror so we don’t forget to reach out and embrace life in any way we can. It reminds me of one of our neighbors when I was growing up. After serving in the military, George got the job he wanted, married his high school sweetheart, bought a house, and together they had three children. In his forties, George suffered a mild heart attack which was successfully treated. Doctors gave him a great prognosis for a healthy future with only a few lifestyle recommendations.
But George was paralyzed with fear and it changed his entire outlook on life. He was so focused on the possibility he might trigger another heart attack that he quit his job and kept himself virtually housebound. His wife got a job and began supporting the family - and he never went back to work. He was afraid to play with his kids and wouldn’t exercise at all. Thirty plus years later, George has not had another heart attack... but his life has been stunted and very isolated. He never allowed himself to really enjoy doing activities with his children or grandchildren. From my observation, he seems a very bitter and unhappy person who hasn’t really enjoyed life at all. He just sits there expecting to die - and all those precious years have been wasted.
Don’t let it happen to you! Find ways to expand your horizons and explore ways to work with - not around - your physical limitations. Don't sit there waiting to die, simply breathing just to exist. Take Thompson’s advice and make your life a fantastic ride filled with everything good you can possibly reach!