Present and Accounted For
May 19, 2013

Living firmly in the moment. Knowing that is all you have.

Sometimes the messages we need to absorb most of all come to us repeatedly in various ways.

I have had several heart-to-hearts with one of my oldest friends lately, about work and purpose and seizing the day. She and I acknowledge that we are the generation with no expectations of job security, so there is no reason to play the long-suffering fool in a job that brings you no joy beside a decent paycheck. Too many of our parents' generation and some of our peers convince themselves that they are enduring racism, sexism, indifference, insensitivity or downright cruelty, at home or on the job, because of some payoff coming in the not too distant future. But what if that day never comes?

There comes a day, a time, a moment when the equation of life has to be at least equal, if not greater than, when you tally all of the things you're enduring to survive. A husband who buys you almost anything you want, but never gives you his affection or his time? A job that pays you handsomely, yet tasks you daily and on weekends into the wee hours of the morning, taking you away from your family, hobbies, or just a moment to relax and exhale? The ugly words of a loved one who refuses to accept your vision may be different from theirs. The doubts of a lover who discourages you as a means to keep you close when they fear you are outgrowing them. Let it go and do YOU, while you still have the chance.

I lost two significant people in my life this week. Two men who remind me how incredibly important it is to make the most of the time you have. My Uncle Mike, given the title Uncle out of respect for his age, not actual lineage. Five years ago, he was getting dressed to go out on New Year's Eve, planning on bringing in the year dancing with his wife, when he suffered a catastrophic stroke. After rehab, seizures and other complications, his body finally gave up the fight on Monday. He was a veteran, a decorated Army man, whose sons admired, loved and respected him. Now he's gone. And just this morning, I got word that the boy who escorted me to my senior prom was killed last night in a car accident. More than 20 years have passed, but the charismatic Tobagan teen who formed a cute "band couple" with me turned into a popular Florida DJ with a legion of fans all across the US who cherished his easy laughter and musical sensibilities. We lost touch with other for a while, but reconnected after I joined Facebook and never ended a conversation without exchanging genuine I love yous. Just last week, we chatted by phone, discussing plans to meetup with friends in DC in June and possibly spending his birthday together in Orlando in July. But that won't happen now. That last conversation will have to be where the story ends.

So many of us live our lives in the certainty that we'll have enough time, somewhere down the line, to get to the things that make life worth living. We put off pleasure, laughter, a calling or a true need, thinking we can span the divide or make up the time later on. If only we recognized that there is an urgency of now in every breath we breathe. Like the closing scene of Love Jones, acknowledging the urgency of this moment, right here, could make all the difference in bringing us to love, happiness or just a deeper understanding our ourselves. Carpe diem. The present is a gift, indeed.

Here is last week's playlist: