I don’t know when I heard this for the first time but it has since become one of my favorite life mottos and something to live by. Last night several people I know were paying their respects to a group of friends that died suddenly in a small plane crash in Arizona. Minutes before the plane crashed they were posting on their Instagram stories while on the plane. I don’t know why but seeing that brought me back to our mortality and how quickly we can be gone from this life.
Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, and whatever your belief about the next life is, pretty much everyone that I have ever talked to believes the same in that the afterlife won’t be anything like the one we live in now. That is why I preach every day to those around me that life is to be celebrated, life is to be enjoyed, and life is to be shared with those we love. My brother has a picture on his wall that says, “Collect Moments Not Things”. This to me is such a beautiful reminder of where to put my time and attention.
Learn to say yes. Learn to look for opportunities to serve others and create memories with them. When somebody asks you to go to a random party, go! When somebody invites you to try a new experience, jump at the chance! When you have that feeling inside that you should call or go visit somebody, do it!
About a year ago I lost a friend very close to me when she lost her battle with depression. I was so sad for her and her family and at the same time, I had such a sense of gratitude because I could get close to her these past few years. I was able to spend some amazing time in Haiti with her and a collection of my friends enjoying what life has to give.
When she first called me 3 years ago to go work at an orphanage in Haiti I said absolutely not. First off, I didn’t know anyone in her group, it was over New Years, and I had heard that Haiti was a disaster of a country. I blew her off. I blew her off a few more times over the next few weeks but thankfully she didn’t give up on me and eventually until the universe screamed loud enough that I needed to go.
That trip forever changed my life. It opened up my heart and mind to a people that I never knew existed before. It was the catalyst to get me involved with Operation Underground Railroad. By sheer coincidence the orphanage we went to work at is the same one ran by Gesno, the man whose son was kidnapped several years ago and the inspiration for Tim Ballard to start O.U.R. I have had amazing experiences one after another both with Haiti and with OUR since that trip to the orphanage and none of it would have ever happened if I had blown off Liz one more time.
Who in your life could really use a phone call and a visit? Whom do you want to be closer to? What do you want to experience? Where do you want to go? Meditate, pray, think about whose life you can touch and whom you want to go create a memory with. About 5 years ago I got a call from my brother that my grandma wasn’t doing so well. He had been up visiting her in Wyoming and she had to go to the hospital for some tests. On the family text thread, one of my siblings recommended that we all should go up and visit her, one after another all my siblings agreed. Within an hour I and every one of my brothers and sisters were on our way to Evanston to visit my grandma.
We had a great visit and we all got to show her that we loved and cared about her. Because of some things that happened a few years before with my mom and dad and their divorce, we hadn’t been as close to my grandma the past few years and I think we all felt bad about that. There was some real pain in the family and real healing that was needed. She was a great grandma and had always shown us nothing but love. I think every one of us felt bad that we hadn’t been as close to her the past few years. When we left the hospital my Grandma was in good spirits and we all left feeling really good that she got to feel our love towards her. It was a touching visit with lots of tears, to say the least.
As we drove home we got caught in a snowstorm that had it hit us on the way up we wouldn’t have been able to even go up the canyon to see her. We joked with each other in the car that grandma could live another 10 years. Some of us wondered if it wouldn’t be shorter and we started talking about doing something fun later in the summer that we could have her come out to and enjoy.
By the time we got back to Salt Lake a few hours later, we pulled in the driveway and got news that our Grandma, who we had just been with 2 hours before, had passed away. Not one of us had seen her for months leading up to that day yet somehow we all knew as soon as my brother texted us that we had to drop whatever we were doing and we all went up and saw her for what turned out to be one last time.
I don’t know if my grandma just needed to see us before she could leave this life with peace or if she just hung on long enough for none of us to live with the guilt that we hadn’t been as close and hadn’t gone to see her one last time? But that day was a gift only God could give and I know for me and all my siblings that were a healing and a spiritual moment that has helped every single one of us in our lives. That was a moment I’ll never forget and one that we were lucky enough to create that day. I’ll forever be grateful for that moment in life and the love I felt that day from my grandma.
My grandma on my mom’s side is 96 years old now and she is still 100% there mentally. She grew up in Chicago and was even kind enough to not talk too much trash when the Cubs beat the Indians in the World Series a few years ago. In fact, I think the only reason the Indians losing in Game 7 didn’t send me into depression was that I took a little happiness in knowing my grandma finally got to see her beloved Cubs win the World Series.
She moved to Minnesota a few years ago and so I haven’t seen her for a bit but my soul keeps calling me to go and visit her. Earlier this week I decided to do something about it so I called my two sisters Jenny and Mikki and I just said, “Let's go to Minnesota for a weekend and go see Grandma!” They both loved the idea. We immediately booked tickets and we will be heading there next month.
There are a lot of things I could be doing with my time but I can’t think of anything more important than spending a few days with my sisters and Grandma. My one sister even said, “You have no idea how bad I need a few days to just get away!” I reminded her that it is still a month away and she said, “I don’t care, gives me something to look forward to!” This is how you create a moment in life. Don’t wait for life to happen to you, it won’t. Look for opportunities to explore, be uncomfortable, and be curious about life and others. Later this week I’m flying to the Bahamas to go swim with Tiger sharks with my friend Garrett Gee. People keep telling me that I’m crazy and it is dangerous, but so is driving on the freeway. All the greatest blessings and gifts in life are on the other side of fear. Your fear is just your DNA wiring trying to keep you alive. It doesn’t understand that it is hindering your progress and happiness. So face the fear and do it anyways! Your life moments await. Please feel free to reach out to me and share any moments you create over the next little while that hopefully were inspired at least a little by this post! I’d love to hear about it.