Recently I’ve been collecting inspirational quotes that remind me to make the most of every day:
“Every day is an epic journey!” Diana Nyad, long-distance swimmer
“Play is a tool for social change,” Jessica Matthews, Uncharted Play
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.” A.A. Milne
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Of course, one reason I’m focused on meaningful living is because I’m also thinking about dying. How do you move through this holiday season, experiencing life to the fullest, and also honoring and feeling connected with those who have died?
Here are a few ideas I have tried. I’d love to hear from you: how else do you acknowledge and honor your dead?
We always have some of my parents’ favorite foods. My dad particularly liked Planter’s Deluxe Nut Mix. He really adored the cashews, but he didn’t want to spend the money to upgrade to all cashews. He preferred to pick out the deliciously rare morsels, often leaving behind a plethora of peanuts, almonds or hazelnuts. In his honor, we repeat the ritual. Thank goodness, someone finally likes peanuts. Now all we need is a champion for the almonds. Did you know that memorial cashews have no calories?
I like to wear my mother’s black blouse emblazoned with silver sequins at least once during the season. When Mom wore this blouse, it signified she was going out someplace elegant. She accompanied it with a long black skirt and high heels. When I put on my ordinary black slacks and tie up my ubiquitous black tennis shoes, I imagine my mother shaking her head. “Don’t you have any better shoes, dear?” my mother prods me from beyond the grave. “A little lipstick would be nice.” That’s a lovely part of our post-death ritual: I hear my mother’s suggestions and I fondly remember her love of dressing up.
A dear friend from Baltimore died this year, way before his time. He loved movies and always called to give us his review of any new films. Particularly this time of year, when we go to the cinema, we think about our friend and discuss his possible opinion of the film. Which character would he have identified with? What would have been his favorite scene? How many stars would he have given the show?
I feel grateful that the people I love are part of my attempt to live an “epic” life. In fact, my dad inspired me to use the George Burns quote that ends this piece. I’m thinking about Dad and his dear friend Hank, recently deceased. They might be holding drinks, a little torchy jazz music in the background. Dad might lean over to Hank and say, “You know I’m feeling a little old today. I just realized that when I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick.”