Five years ago, I wrote a post about chocolate-covered strawberries that was not really about chocolate-covered strawberries—it was all about not saving life’s pleasures or little special things for some “better” day in the future that never seems to come.
It’s a lesson that was hard-won: six and a half years ago, I lost my almost-three-year-old nephew very unexpectedly. To say that my family was devastated is an understatement—his death rocked me to my very core, and though I couldn’t tell immediately, his passing literally changed the person I was and my life’s path forever.
You see, I was always the kind of person who saved the pleasurable things for later—as the blog post mentioned above says, I would put off using the things that were meant to bring me pleasure (nice bubble bath, fancy chocolates, perfume) for some future date, when all the stars would align and the moment would be “perfect” for using that item (or spending time with that friend or kissing that boy).
Those star-aligning moments almost never came, and more often than not, I just ended up throwing a LOT of stuff away because its prime had passed and was left wondering what I was doing during my high school and early college days when everyone else was out meeting people and going to games and having fun.
But after I got the news of my nephew’s death, I did a 180—I changed to a major I loved (English) and dropped the one I hated (math). Because the drop of my major also meant I’d dropped a class, I was able to make more time in my life for pleasure—each night for the first several months after his passing, I “planned” an hour or two of fun or pleasure every single evening so that I would have something to get me through what were still very hard days.
It sounds like such a simple thing, but the fact that I was planning pleasurable things for myself every day made enjoying life’s little moments of joy a lot easier (probably because I had so many more little moments to actually enjoy!).
Yesterday after church, I discovered a rope tethered to our tree outside and decided to give it a little swing. Even though I was only on it for about 90 seconds, the experience left me giggly and flushed and as full of energy as if I’d just gone on a good run.
And I got to thinking:
Am I making enough time in my life for pleasure and fun?
I’ll have you know that this blog post was originally titled, “Have I forgotten how to have fun?” It was going to be all about how becoming a teacher and an adult and a wife has basically made me a more serious person and how sometimes I feel like a fun-killer (esp. at the school).
But you know, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I still WAS the changed person I had become after my nephew’s death—I still realize on a nearly-daily basis how precious every moment is, and I still am in the habit of looking for (and making) happy moments in every day. True, I could be better about “planning” some fun every day or letting myself get a little silly now and then.
But I was happy to discover that six and a half years after the fact, I have still learned my lesson:
Life is too short to not eat the chocolate-covered strawberries.
Happy Monday, everyone!