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Monday, February 21, 2011

Live Life Like it is Short

Photo: Casey Fleser
I looked in the mirror on Saturday morning, in desperate need of a shave, and wondered when so many of my whiskers turned gray. Probably around the same time my hair did.

I couldn’t help but think about four letters my dad sent to me in the 1980s that I found recently.

Here’s a portion of one of them:

This letter was dated February 24, 1981, which means it’ll turn 30 this week. That caused me to do some math. My dad would have been 45 when he wrote this letter to me; I would have been 14. I will turn 45 this year, so reading this letter is like reading my life. I beat Dad to the punch regarding bifocals though. I got them a year and half ago.

I’ve never been one to stress over my own mortality. I just notice the subtle changes. My senses have been heightened even more over the past week as I’ve been reading through 1 Chronicles about the descendants of each of the twelve tribes of Israel.

At first glance, the long genealogies might seem like a boring list of hard to pronounce names, but the reality is Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron (the four sons of Issachar) were real people with real problems who lived and died. And their children lived and died. And so it went. Seeing the cycle of life firing by in one sentence after the other is yet another indicator that life is short and we should live like it is short.

Over the weekend, my sister and her family in St. Louis signed up for Skype so we could begin video chatting. She and her husband have two small children and I only get see them in person once a year. Skype to the rescue. We couldn’t get the audio working, but we got the video up and running. We just used our cell phones for audio. I couldn’t believe how much my nephew, who isn’t even one yet, has changed since I saw him in October.

After we finished our chat, I did the math again – when my nephew is 20, I’ll be 65 – one year older than my Dad’s age when he passed away. For me, living life like it is short means finding ways to stay in touch with the people I love. It means leaving records of the previous generations in my family for new generations. It means living intentionally, knowing how quickly 20 years can pass.


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