This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before. ~Maya Angelou
I’m not sure if it was because of Erma Bombeck or the Kings of Leon begging me from the radio to Waste a Moment, but yesterday evening found me and my youngest pulled over on the side of the road mooing at the new spring calves. They watched us with their curious moon eyes then kicked high in the air with little stick legs and ran away giggling at us.
We briefly considered if just the tiny black one would fit in the backseat.
The sun was landing and it lit my girl’s wild hair on fire through the open window and everything smelled green and we lost our breath laughing at those flirty baby cows.
It was one of those rare moments when a person opens the gift she is handed the minute she gets it.
And I was grateful in the present.
I was a hopelessly perm-headed high schooler the first time I read the article Erma wrote after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Even as a teenage know-it-all, I recognized the wisdom of the ‘would haves’ in If I Had My Life to Live Over as something other and I put a copy of it in a folder marked Important Stuff. Those words have followed my life around since, kind of like a balloon tied to the back of my collar. At times through the years I’ve left them trailing behind in seasons of streamlined survival or for the goodness sakes of practicality.
But I was built a poor soldier of efficiency and I always sooner than later stop to catch my breath and remember how balloons are magical. I’m not sure if Erma yanked the covers off a practical sort of life early on or if I have always been impractically bent and accepted her manifesto as glad encouragement. Either way my practice has been bare feet, a lived-in house, letting myself rest when I’m sick, water balloon fights with my kids, well-deep conversations, Sunday naps, permanent chalk dust butt playing in the driveway, car windows down, burning the good candles, and I love yous every last chance I get.
I have made a sweet life paying attention to one woman’s list of regrets. And yet I still have some of my own.
But I may get one more day.
A day I could make my own list of would haves shorter.
And so I will.
I will be quick to listen, slow to speak and slower to anger.
I will remove the words hurry up from my vocabulary.
I will sew hope and I will take joy and scatter it and be a better sister, daughter, friend.
I will let every breath be my prayer and take good notes of the beauty in this world and send those back up as worship.
I will do more sauntering, idling, whiling, being.
I will listen to my heart’s beat for justice and stare into the eyes of the unseen until they feel fully known and I will take the red lettered words of Jesus about the least of these seriously.
I will make out with my man just because we’re standing at the kitchen sink.
I will forgive as one who forgets and love as one who’s never known anything else.
I will get off the damned phone.
I will hug my kids long and press my lips hard against their cheeks and remind them that they are the apple of God’s eye.
I just might send letters by mail, learn to crochet, read in the sun, eat dessert and do some yoga but I know for sure I won’t be running.
I will hold all the minutes and be grateful as if life is a surprise and every moment a beautiful gift.
I might fail.
But I might get the chance again.
Maybe today is a good day to ask yourself…
I’m just saying you might find yourself stopped on an old country road mooing across pastures.
If I Had My Life to Live Over
by Erma Bombeck
If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” …
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.