It’s great to be here. It’s great to be anywhere.
—Keith Richards; Rock God, connoisseur of life
I’ve got a cat who’s twenty-two years old.
I’ve also got a dad who’s eighty-seven.
The cat and my dad share the same superhero power: They both have the ability to make me pay lots of attention to them and be nicer to them than I am to anyone else. Anyone else not staring down the barrel of their impending mortality, that is.
I first realized that my cat was old and might die soon about a year ago when, overnight, all his body fat plunged to his belly region, causing him to swing it around like an udder and leaving him with a spine that’s still in shock, jutting out all spindly and jagged, wondering where everybody went. This is when the teary farewells started every time I’d leave the house and the fancy wet food began appearing in his bowl.
In Dad’s case, the phone calls and flights back east have escalated dramatically, and I now laugh hysterically at all his jokes, no doubt making him worry more about my wellbeing than I do about his.
I’m thrilled to report that even though in the calendar’s opinion, they’re real old, they’re both still kicking butt. Dad plays tennis once a week and still knows who I am, and my cat still runs when he hears the can opener.
They are also excellent reminders: When it comes to the creatures you love and the things you love and the life you love, what on earth could possibly be more important than soaking them up right now while you still have the opportunity?
If it’s something you want to do, don’t wait until you’re less busy or richer or “ready” or twenty pounds lighter. Start right now. You’ll never be this young again.
If it’s the people you love, visit them as often as possible. Act as if every time you see them will be the last. If they bug you sometimes, love them anyway. If you’ve got differences, get over them. Don’t get so tangled up in the stupid little stuff that you miss out on enjoying the people who have part-ownership of your heart.
If you’re not where you want to be in life, keep going. Treat yourself like you’re the closest friend you’ve got. Celebrate the magnificent creature that you are. Don’t let anyone mess with you and your dreams, least of all yourself.
Your life is happening right now. Do not snooze and lose.