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The art of living until you die
Dennis Wyatt new mug
Dennis Wyatt

“I’m gonna live till I die!”

It’s great advice. It is part of the lyrics Al Hoffman penned for the Frank Sinatra song of the same name.

Too often we act as if we can’t wait to die. We moan and groan about how bad things are. We never stop to think it’s such a waste because all that does is take time away from living.

“I’m gonna laugh ‘stead of cry.”

Ethel Kennedy in a Life Magazine article once said “laughter is better than tears.” This comes from a lady who had to endure the pain of watching her husband fatally shot just minutes after winning the California primary — the biggest political victory of his career. There is nothing wrong in crying. But we ultimately make the choice whether we wallow in our grief or we go back to laughing.

“I’m gonna take the town and turn it upside down.”

Life is like a night on the town. You can go tag along as an observer or you can take charge of your emotions, try new things, and dance the night away.”

“I’m gonna live, live, live until I die.”

“They’re gonna say. “What a guy!”

People aren’t inspired by naysayers. It’s those that are full of life, who dare to be themselves, and who strive to include others in savoring the beauty of both people and the physical world that grab our attention.

“I’m gonna play for the sky.”

Play it safe and you’ll never experience the thrill of swinging for the bleachers in the ninth inning, climbing a mountain, swimming in the ocean, hiking in the snow, or being embraced by love.

“Ain’t gonna miss a thing.”

“I’m going to have my fling.”

Too often we get in a comfort zone, which is a nice way to describe a rut. People now make bucket lists and methodically cross things off as they’re doing them. There are dangers in doing so. If we don’t do everything on the list we either think we are getting short changed, are somehow a failure, or falsely believe we’ve experienced all we need if we cross everything off the list. Bucket lists are akin to using a road map just to reach known destinations. We get so focused on our goals that we fail to notice countless side trips that we can take that we never dreamed would be so rewarding.

“I’m gonna live, live, live until I die.
“The blues I lay low.

“I’ll make them stay low.

“They’re never trail over my head.”

Misery is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we embrace it, the more we sink into it. Pity parties for one guarantees the blues will rule your life. It’s hard to have uplifting experiences if you are so focused on “woe is me.” If you focus on misery, you will be miserable. It’s as simple as that.

“I’ll be a devil, till I’m an angel, but until then — Hallelujah.”

Yes, we are going to do things that stretch the boundaries of behavior. That’s not referencing reprehensible acts of hurting another physically or mentally or abusing your body. There was a time when dancing was considered the devil’s doing. Now there are those who spread happiness by dancing. If we all conformed with the accepted norms that existed when we were brought into this world there never would have been TV, smartphones, or other devices and inventions we harness to make life easier, more productive, and more enjoyable.

“Gonna dance, gonna fly”

“I’ll take a chance riding high,”

Play it safe and you will never savor immense joy. Pain and fear make us a wall flower at a dance. Shed them and you can take part in the reason you longed to be there.  Yes, rejection hurts. But there is a lot of truth in words penned 137 years ago by Alfred Lord Tennyson, “ Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” You might take a tumble off the horse, but nothing matches the experience of being in the saddle.

“Before my number’s up,

“I’m gonna fill my cup,

“I’m gonna live, live, live until I die.”

Too often we say “I’ll do it tomorrow” whether it is playing ball with the grandkids, reading a book, visiting a friend, or helping someone who is struggling. Tomorrow is promised to no one. It’s a funny thing about life. There is no time to kill as the clock starts ticking the moment we’re born and we have no idea when our number is up. Sometimes we live life as if we are immortal and have all the time in the world. We forget dying is the price we pay for living.

So why not squeeze as much joy and happiness you can out of life?

All you have to do, as old Blue Eyes sang, is live until you die.