Just one thing needs to change to make your life longer, richer, fuller.
In the early 1980’s, I attended a forestry conference in Southern California. One of the guest speakers was a Canadian conservationist who was celebrating her 95th birthday. I have long since forgotten her name, but her beautiful message has stuck with me all these years.
This tall, smiling, elderly woman, whom I’ll call Catherine, shared this wise and wonderful advice in a large hall packed with aspiring young Forest Service workers:
“They say life is short, but is it?” she began. “Once you get close to 100, as I am, people will ask you point-blank if life seems short or long when you get to the end of it. Today, on my 95th birthday, I have decided to let the cat out of the bag.
“Somewhere in my early thirties, the pace of life began to quicken,” Catherine continued. “I was so busy trying to raise a family and fund my reforestation projects that whole years began to fly by in a blur, as if I wasn’t even there for them. It seemed like only a short time passed before I looked up and saw my 70th birthday coming at me like a runaway train. In that regard, I can tell you that life from birth to 70 was far too short, at least for me.”
Paradoxically, Catherine related that her life from 70 to 95 had seemed much longer, fuller, richer and more beautiful—almost spiritual. What had changed in her later years? Just one thing: “I made a promise to myself to live those years one day at a time,” she explained. “It dawned on me that life is short, but the days are long if you are truly conscious of each and every one.
“The secret is this,” she said, “and please don’t wait until it’s too late to use it:
“Live consciously. Treat each day as if it’s a miniature lifetime. In this way I have learned to get more life out of one day than I used to get out of entire years.”
Catherine is gone now, but I have continued to share her message with thousands of people, including many terminal cancer patients, all of whom have put it to amazing use.
• There is no such thing as an insignificant day.
• Live each day as if it’s a miniature lifetime.
• Whether you’re 5 or 105, you have a lifetime ahead of you.