Live Like You Were Dying

You know that feeling when you’re first falling in love and you can’t get enough of each other, like you could just eat the person whole? That’s how I feel right now. But not with a person, I feel that way about life, about this world, about the connections I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had. I feel overwhelmingly like the luckiest girl in the world right now, and I’m gonna do my best to explain to you why.

Last night I flew to Denver after spending ten days hanging by a lake just outside Seattle. As my plane cruised right over the house I had stayed in, I took in the vastness and beauty of the northwest, and all that had happened in the past ten days (like, so much I can’t even go into that right now). As if I wasn’t feeling grateful enough, Mount Rainier came into view at that very moment, and I got that I-wanna-eat-you-whole kind of feeling.

While in Seattle I was telling my friend Jules about a fantastic memory I have from over ten years ago. It was the summer between my junior and senior year of college, and I was living out here in Boulder with my boyfriend at the time. We were lucky to have open access to his family’s gorgeous ranch in Estes Park, just outside Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s an old dude ranch with a handful of little cabins; we’d claim one and stay in it for a few days at a time. We’d sleep in sleeping bags on top of shitty cot mattresses and play Uno until we fell asleep. We’d share meals in the grub shack with whoever else was there at the time, and we’d sit on the porch of the main lodge for hours, sipping our microbrews and staring at the mountains, as if they might move if we looked away.

I had a waitressing job back in town and I’d take his pickup truck up and down the windy mountain road to get to work. I’d shift gears to climb the inclines and blast country music to go with this new cowboy lifestyle of mine. I’d take in the smell of summertime in Colorado, the sounds of the roadside creeks and the crisp air and the sun filtering through the trees, and I’d sing along to Tim McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying. It is one of my happiest memories, and one that has stuck with me not just because of the smell of the pines or the warmth of the Colorado sun or even because of how good life was in that moment (but it was), but because of the words that Tim and I belted out.

I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
And he said
Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity
To think about
What you’d do with it
What could you do with it
What did I do with it?
What would I do with it?
— Tim McGraw

Over ten years later that relationship and the Tacoma and even my affinity for country music and cowboy boots and big belt buckles has been long gone (phew), but I come back to those lyrics often. Because I have lost people who I know would have liked to live more while they were here, and because I have had moments that force me to consider my own mortality – that force me to ask, what would I do differently?

So when Jules and I were driving through Seattle in her Grandpa’s Buick last week, and that song came on just one day after I told her this story, we cranked it. We sang the lyrics and we looked at each other and smiled because we knew we were doing it. And a few days later, as we cruised on a boat over the glass-like waters of Lake Washington well after dark, I played the song again, and we waved our arms in the air and shouted the lyrics into the wake behind us and took in the moment and knew once again – we wouldn’t change a thing.

And yesterday when I looked out the window of my plane and reflected on a phenomenal ten days in Seattle and took in the insane beauty of the world and the fact that we can just fly through the skies from place to place; and I knew I was heading to yet another gorgeous destination where there’s even more people I love and things to do and new experiences to be had, I asked myself that question again, and I wanted to swallow the world whole.

Because the things we worry about – the debt, the petty arguments, the jealousy, those few extra pounds, acquiring the latest iPhone, the long list of to-do’s – none of it would matter if time was running short. And while I live in reality and I do sometimes stress about those things, I wouldn’t take back all the money I’ve spent on my travels, or the thousands of pizzas I’ve eaten, or the millions of kisses I’ve given, or the errands I didn’t run so that I could go do something better.

In that moment I felt overcome with joy because I have stopped waiting for anything. I start before I’m ready. I book the trip, I get the tattoo, I call the guy. I don’t apologize for being who I am, for choosing to live this life exactly the way I want to.

I say fuck it, and I let myself fall in love with the world.



So what would you do differently?  Share in the comments below!


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