Joan Didion writes:” “Life changes fast. Life changes in an instant. An ordinary instant”. It happened to me when I went from the indestructible “Running Rabbi” to needing a blood transfusion because I was so weak. As I lay in my hospital bed, wondering if I would survive the leukemia that ravaged me, I put on my headphones and listened to Willie Nelson singing: “Maybe I didn’t love you…Maybe I didn’t hold you all those lonely, lonely times…Little things I should have said and done, I just never took the time…But you were always on my mind…You were always on my mind.”
Yes, we think there will always be a second chance for that embrace. And we tell ourselves “someday” we will devote more time to those we love and the truly important things that matter. But what if that “someday” never comes?
Jewish wisdom enlightens us that we never know which day will be our last. If we realize that life can be cut short in an “ordinary instant” then the challenge is how do we get our priorities right?
We must never take our friends and loved ones for granted. When I counsel wedding couples I tell them that no matter what conflicts we have with our spouses during the day we should always end the day with a kiss and say ” I love you.” Maybe it sounds corny but I found out it works.
To live a life without regret we must realize that the journey of life is fleeting and not let time pass without embracing those we love with all our heart and soul.
To live a life without regret we must shed the childhood belief that we are unattractive or unintelligent or unlovable. As adults we must rid ourselves of the delusion that we are always right and always the victim.
To live a life without regret we must shed the myths and look at the reflection in the mirror and see ourselves blemishes and all.
A Hebrew prayer cautions us against self deception: “May we ask for honesty, vision, and courage. Honesty to see ourselves as we are, vision to see ourselves as we should, and the courage to change.”
My life has taught me that we have only one brief time on earth and we cannot know what an uncertain tomorrow may bring. So let us get ourselves “a heart of wisdom”.
“The past is over. The future is a mystery. The here and now is all we have. This moment is a gift! “
Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe, a four time cancer survivor, is a motivational/inspirational speaker on the theme NEVER GIVE UP! He authored “Why Me? Why Anyone?” which chronicles his rescue from leukemia and his spiritual triumph over despair. Known as “The Running Rabbi” for competing in the NY Marathon, he received the “Award of Courage” from President Ronald Reagan in a White House ceremony. Rabbi Jaffe was one of the clergy who visited the American hostages in Iran to offer them comfort and hope and was asked by the President to greet them at the White House upon their return. He received an honorary Doctorate from his seminary for “his work with the sick, and his noble influence upon all people. You can follow him on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Aaron Burden.