When the father of lyric writer Larry Hart (of Rodgers and Hart fame) was dying he called his boys alongside and told them, “Don’t grieve for me…I haven’t missed a thing.”
I love that quote. It reminds me that life is simply what we make of it. It is up to us to “grab all the gusto we can”, as the old beer commercial said.
Is it, however, really possible? Is it really possible to go through a life of 6, 7, 8 or more decades and not miss some wonderful experiences or opportunities? I highly doubt it. Still, to be able to exit this stage and feel like you’ve grabbed as much of life as possible is a noble pursuit.
At age 68 I’m fully aware that I missed some things. Sometimes I missed them because I was blind to them. I simply wasn’t looking in the right direction as they passed me by. I only saw them in the rear view mirror.
Sometimes I missed them because they were too grand or too risky. I grew fearful and hesitant. I held so tightly to what I had—and sometimes that wasn’t much by comparison—that I couldn’t loosen my grip to grab hold of an even greater thing.
Most of all, I was simply busy trying to live life. I was just getting by but that took all my time and energy. At least that was my excuse. As the saying goes, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” My wife and I raised 5 sons and pastored two churches. We invested time in our friends and our communities. I have no regrets for those choices. They were good and noble and right.
In the end you grab as much you can but do so knowing you can’t grab it all. Should you try you will probably find you never grab anything fully. You may also find that the most important things slip through your hands while you are busy chasing dreams and rainbows.
I have no serious regrets about my life. I won’t spend my time gazing in the rear view mirror at the what could have been. Instead, I can look at what was, what is, and what is still to be with a sense of gratitude and excitement.
Besides, If I keep my eyes open, if I overcome a bit of fear, and become a little more determined to seek and live my dreams, who knows? There just might be—no, there will be—some great dreams and opportunities in the days and years ahead.
And, yes, I do believe the best is yet to come.