If I had a dollar for every time somebody said to me “can you believe how fast time goes by?” I’d be rich. And if I had another dollar for every time I think the same thing, I’d be a millionaire. How is it that we are so aware of how fast time passes, and yet we waste so much of it? Why is it that we don’t live every moment as if it were our last – because it quite possibly could be? Life can and does change in an instant.
I’ve recently been reminded of this over and over again. Last month, Lorie Huston, an accomplished veterinarian and veterinary journalist, died unexpectedly. Two days before Lori’s death, Sophia Yin, a renowned veterinary behaviorist, took her own life. Three weeks ago, I attended a benefit for Karl Cochran, a rock guitarist who had a stroke this spring, and who is currently facing a long and slow recovery.
I knew Lorie personally. I never met Sophia Yin, but knew of her. I didn’t meet Karl until the night of the benefit, and then only briefly to wish him well. But yet, all three of these events affected me profoundly. Maybe it’s because all three of these individuals are around the same age as I am. Maybe it’s because all three seemed to lead lives that would be considered charmed by anyone’s definition, and now they’re either gone, or facing a life that has been irrevocably changed.
It’s natural to reevaluate your life when tragedy happens. Remember how many of us swore that we’d change our lives in the days following 9/11? How many of us have made really lasting changes? I’d venture to bet it’s only a very small minority.
When bad things happen to good people, it can serve as a wake up call to the rest of us. If knowing that life can change in an instant isn’t motivation enough to make some changes, I don’t know what is.
“Pay attention to each moment as if it were your last.”
And the changes don’t even have to be big ones. You don’t have to sell all your worldly posessions and travel the world. All that’s really required is to spend more time in the present moment. Really pay attention to what you’re doing. Don’t multitask. Pay attention to each moment as if it were your last.
And who better to teach us how to do this than our cats. Cats are always fully engaged in what they’re doing in each present moment.
Start small. Just pick one small moment, and experience it fully. Notice your thoughts, notice how you feel. Are you really in the moment, or is a part of you thinking about what’s for dinner, what you have to get done before you can relax? Acknowledge the thoughts, and then gently let them go. Just be.
Initially, this can be easier said than done. But eventually, being present will become a more natural way of being, and the shifts you will experience in your life as a result of this practice can be powerful.
And if we need a little help with this, the cats in our lives will be more than happy to model the behavior for us.
Do you find it challenging to pay attention to each moment?