After a weekend riddled with bad news from all over the place, both on the news and personally, I have concluded that life is too short to take certain things for granted. There is a wonderful word in German – selbstverständlich – which essentially means self-evident, but depending on the context (and preceding adverb), it can also mean to take for granted. The sentence es ist nicht selbstverständlich (it is not self-evident / you cannot take for granted) is powerful in both the legal and social sense, more importantly, in the emotional.

HuaHin sunrise2
Don’t take it for granted ©MTHerzog

You cannot take it for granted that:

  • the person you marry in your youth will be the one you grow old with
  • what your parents taught you is perfect or even legally binding
  • the sun will shine the next day
  • you will always have a job
  • there will be money in the bank for you
  • food will always be on the table
  • you have a roof over your head
  • you have a bed every night
  • someone who loves you will be waiting at home
  • those who consider friends will be there in your time of need
  • grief is easy to overcome
  • you will wake up the next morning
  • experience will get you through each and every time
  • what you have been doing all your life is the right thing to do in the present
  • the way you treat people and yourself is beneficial for your soul

None of the points above can be taken for granted, and if this past weekend is anything to go by, life can be over in an instant. You think you have everything under control one moment, and then the shit hits the fan and everything turns into a holy mess the next.

Life is definitely too short not to

  • be kind to others
  • move away from your past
  • make the most of each day
  • take time to be kind to yourself
  • slow down and appreciate the simple things
  • reach out and build the bridges you burned in the past
  • learn something new
  • embark on a new project
  • travel to a new and unfamiliar place
  • break out of your comfort zone
  • adopt a pet in need
  • practice awareness and sensitivity – of others and yourself
  • tell someone how much you appreciate them
  • express your gratitude
  • tell someone you love them.

I ran into a wonderful story recently about an elderly couple who went to the pharmacy together every week to get their medicines. The wife was the chattier one of the two, and greeted the staff by first name, knew their stories, and took the time to visit, not just collect her medicines. Her husband was the strong silent type, holding her hand lovingly and letting her do all the talking. One day he came in alone and everyone knew there was something wrong. He mumbled that he was not there to collect medicine, but to return his wife’s, as she passed away the night before. He was disconsolate as he handed over the unopened containers and the people around tried their best to express their condolences and offer their help. With tears in his eyes he said “For the past 50 years I told her I loved her every night before we turned off the lights. Last night I forgot.”