Sometimes we find the push we need in the strangest places. Yesterday, while on Facebook, I read a poem that my dear friend Erin, who I’ve known for over 20 years, posted, stating that it had been one of her favorite poems and that her mother had it above her desk since she was a child. I read the poem, surprised that I had never seen it before, and realized instantly that the words of it’s song resonated in my heart and pulled me back from the daily troubles and life lessons that had been overwhelming my mind recently. I printed off the poem, making two copies. One to hang of the fridge and the other one to hand above my desk in my office, next to my picture of a remote beach in Antigua.
And today, as I stood in my office, checking off all of the things I had to get done on my list, my eyes grazed over that poem and old Nadine, the poet, spoke to me as if she were standing in that room. Suddenly, I realized that my mother, old friends even old teachers and childhood pets were dancing around me in my mind, reminding me how truly short life is and how I take even the smallest things for granted.
I opened the door and stepped out into the garden behind my office and stopped and stared up at the most amazing azure sky I had seen in a long time. And then I realized that maybe I just hadn’t been looking. I kicked off my shoes and walked into the grass surrounded with yellow and orange flowers…and I danced. Maybe because the images of all of those people from my past haunted me and reminded me that one day I would be gone too! Or maybe because of the poem. Or maybe because summer will be over soon, and then another fall and another winter and time is passing much too quickly for me to grasp on to it’s withered hands.
So I danced. And I smiled. And I imagined the poet, old Nadine Stair, whispering into my ear the words of her poem, almost as if they were commands. And now I whisper them to you! Listen carefully, and head their words, because we’re on borrowed time as it is…
IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles,
but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who live
sensibly and sanely hour after hour,
day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments,
And if I had it to do over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat
and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
85 years old.