The Life We Realize

Our Town

EMILY: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”

STAGE MANAGER: “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”

Thornton Wilder, Our Town

 

“Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough.”

Thornton Wilder, Our Town

I never read Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town. It seems like the type of literature that would be required high school reading. The mundane and simple nature of the play would surely be lost on most high schoolers, so it’s a good thing I didn’t discover the play until recently.

I’ve just started reading it…the first play I’ve read in at least thirty years. What a relief to know I get to read this one for the sheer pleasure of it, and not in preparation for a final exam on the subject.

There are a ton of thought provoking quotes in the play, but these two stand out for me:

Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?

It’s easy for us to see that fish swim in water that sustains their life, but I doubt they realize it. It’s easy for us to understand that we are “swimming” in the air that sustains our life, but I doubt we realize it. Life is all around us, every minute if we choose to notice.

How many of us realize how precious each day is while we are living them. The countless decisions and non-decisions we make each day, the people we impact (hopefully positively). The memories we accumulate along the way.

Instead of continuously looking ahead, chasing our dreams, maybe it’s good to look to the side occasionally. Slow down and check out the scenery that’s whizzing past as we barrel ahead to our futures. Taking time to appreciate the gift of our life, even as we live it.

Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough.

If you live to be 100 years old, that’s 36,500 days. How about 75 years? That’s 27,375. Imagine you just turned 48, like me. I’ve used 17,538 of my days, so far. Trust me, I used a calculator to check my math.

Which one was the most important? How about the least important?

What are the criteria you use to define importance? Do you have your criteria all picked out? Are you ready for the days when those things you thought were important suddenly don’t matter?

Each of us can identify important days in our past. Chances are, some of the days you see today as being most important didn’t seem so important when you were living them in real time. Hindsight is good that way.

Was today important? How about tomorrow, or the next day?

Each of them will be important enough, if we take the time to realize it.

 

 

 

Photo Credit:  http://www.theguardian.com

 

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