One minute, you're griping about some little problem. Maybe the guy in front of you drives too slow. You fume. You swear. You may even give him the finger and hope he's not carrying a gun. You think people are idiots, everything's wrong, and it sucks to be you.
Then, something serious happens. You find out a loved one has cancer. Or the life of one of your best friend's is interrupted by tragedy. Suddenly, getting stuck in traffic behind a slow driver doesn't seem like such a big deal.
I guess if we were always conscious of time's pendulum tick-tocking our happiness, our very lives away, we wouldn't be able to function. Awareness like that would be paralyzing. But every so often, something shakes us awake and reminds us there are worse things than having a waiter get our order wrong or waiting in line behind someone who's counting out exact change or constantly fighting those stubborn five (OK, maybe ten, if you're me) extra pounds.
If I've learned anything from the past three days, it's how valuable friends are, how hopeless you feel when someone you love is hurting, how mysterious healing is, how powerful prayer can be and how important it is to be reminded that life can, and does, change in a heartbeat.
When I reread what I've written, the idea sounds so basic, so pedestrian, like reiterating something everyone knows.
But being shaken awake isn't like that at all. It's humbling. It's frightening. It's a shocking reminder not to take anything, any moment or anyone for granted.
So take care of your kind, caring, funny, smart, thoughtful, entertaining, delightful-to-be with souls, Everybody. The world needs every last one of you.
Written in memory of Bill Hunt, who passed away yesterday, March 26, 2010. With sympathy and caring to the Hunt family and to Bill's many friends.