Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies within us while we live.
Just before my grandfather died, he told my father that he wished he never shot the deer. A lifelong hunter, it became one of my grandfather’s most profound regrets. My father’s recollection always struck a chord in me, even today. Twenty years later, the memory reminds me about life’s brevity and how we make choices, or not, about what really matters.
It’s easy to get caught in the blur of everyday life. The day gets packed quickly. It feels like a tidal wave actually with the constant onslaught of social media, emails, appointments, phone calls, and news. As a result, we get winded and forget to breath. Rather than be mindful and pace ourselves accordingly, we essentially shut down, numbing ourselves with food or busyness or too much focus on the things that really don’t matter. Regrets pile up, opportunities slip by, until the day comes to a close and we tumble into bed, only to start it all over again the next day.
It goes by fast, doesn’t it? Life, that is. I can remember being a young girl and wishing away the months and years. To be a grown-up was the prize. I turned 18 and then it flew by quickly. All of it. The so-called prize alluded me, or so it seemed. Time ticked by and I was dumbfounded looking back at all that passed. Now, I wonder: how do I make this time count? How do I live it well, so that when day comes, whenever that might be, I will say, it was good, really good?
When I look at the deer that frequent our small farm on Whidbey Island in the northwest, I am reminded of my grandfather’s words. They strengthen my commitment that our land will remain a haven for these gracious creatures even if they do eat some of the landscape.
I also feel a sense of urgency. To pack as much as I can into the minutes, hours, days I have left. To make sure those closest to me know how much I love them. To provide sanctuary to animals who need a place of safety and kindness. To live full out as an artist and writer, so that we are reminded – myself included – of life’s richness and poignant moments.
In this painting of Rafi, the giraffe, he possesses the consummate smile of joy and curiosity. It’s as if he is saying with a bit of humor: Hey, what’s up? I say, what’s up is to live this moment with anticipation and hope and give it all you have. It won’t come your way again. Enjoy! And while you’re at, do that really well too.
Rafi, the Giraffe
12 by 24 Oil on Canvas