Sober Realization


By Dave Pelzer

Years ago I read a poem that to this day has had a profound affect on my life. "If I had my life to live over...I'd relax, I'd limber up...I'd take fewer things seriously...I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers...I would eat more ice cream...I would pick more daisies." This poem was written by Nadine Stair, an eighty-five-year-old woman whose words encouraged many to see and live life through new eyes.

If you had only ten days to live, what would you do? Seriously if your doctor informed you that you had just a few days to live, what would you do with the time you had left? Now you might say "I'd just see another doctor and get a second opinion." Go ahead, make an appointment, take all the time you need. But your time is slipping away with every wasted hour.

I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd pick up the phone and call anyone that came to mind. I'd make the most of my time and have a blast. I'd surround myself with the sounds of my favorite music and fill every room with the scent and vibrant colors of fresh-cut flowers. I would definitely go on a spending binge. I would surprise family and friends with gifts, in the hopes of showing my appreciation and to make their lives just a little brighter. And even though I'm an introvert, I’d host a few parties so I could hold, hug, and just be with those who were important to me during the course of my life. I'd fight for every minute of my life and try not to squander my time. I wouldn't sleep, but I'd take naps outside. I would watch every sunrise and every sunset. I would make peace with my God and be appreciative of the time I had on this planet and how fortunate I was.

What does your world of happiness mean to you? What does it truly, absolutely take to make you feel fulfilled? How much does it cost to watch a sunset, to feel the rays of the sun on your face, or to hear the surf crash against a sandy beach? What price can you put on holding the hand of another or the warm embrace of that one person who means the world to you? How much effort does it take to change your pessimistic attitude and do something to brighten someone else's life?

In all my travels I've learned the things that make all of us happy are right in front of us, each and every day. Our happiness is readily available to everyone of us regardless of our age, sex, nationality, education, religion, our past, our desires, or how much we have or don't have!

Some time ago I ran into a dear friend who had just returned from vacation. Ray had a perfect tan, a bright smile, and a lively spring in his step. I couldn't stop him from telling me about his recent cruise. "I tell ya, my wife and I, all we did was eat and drink. We spent all day at the pool and danced all night. We watched every sunset. We made love every night. We talked for hours on end, we laughed out loud in front of everybody, and played like kids. I tell ya, that was the best money I ever spent!"

When Ray told me the amount, I nearly swallowed my tongue. "Well," I replied, "you and your wife could have done all that at my house for half the price!"

Of course, I was kidding. Ray is one of the hardest workers I know. He is one of the few people who do for others before thinking of themselves, and that one cruise was a lifetime goal for him and his lovely wife. I just find it odd that some people have to 'get away' in order to be happy, or lose (or almost lose) that someone or something that's so special to them in order to truly appreciate what they have in their everyday life; like the saying "You don't know what you have till it's gone."

Every Thanksgiving and every holiday season, all of us take a moment, bow our heads, and reflect on our blessings. I'm sure nearly all of us, no matter what situation we're currently working on, or what we've already been put through, realize how lucky we are. With all the troubles in the world, what if we could carry some of that appreciation and sense of joy with us every day?

Take a step back and look at all that you've accomplished and the opportunities before you. Now ask yourself, "What does it take for me to truly be happy?" The answer has been right in front of you all this time.