One of my most notable memories from my trip to the East Coast last week was celebrating my grandmom Betty’s 90th birthday on Saturday with a large contingent of my extended family.
Despite receiving some very sad news earlier in the day, Betty put on a brave face and celebrated the HECK out of her birthday. Donned with a handmade crown, she enjoyed songs written about her, lighting sparklers and throwing poppers, and the sounds of laughter and cheers while we all admired the beautiful family memories that we’ve all created together. The beauty of such a milestone really got me thinking a lot about time, legacy, and growing older.
Rewind to a few weeks ago when we were in Fargo, and a friend of mine David Baeza was up on stage giving a talk that was chock full of life advice delivered as hilarious one liners, as only David Baeza can do. One of those that stuck with me long after he was on stage was this very simple but powerful phrase:
Use it up.
To give you some context, David was specifically referring to our healthy bodies and the fact that, at some point in our lives (hopefully when we’re much older) our bodies will begin to fail us. This precious resource that we need desperately (and that we so often take for granted) will eventually dwindle, and David says it’s our job to “use it up” while we have it. To hike that mountain, to do that cartwheel, to play with our kids, to go on that trip.
For an idea so simple, it caught me off guard. So often we're taught the opposite. We're taught to "save it up" instead because we never know when we'll need it.
And that doesn't just go for our bodies, that goes for so many other things in life.
For example, when I was little, we didn’t have much money. My parents worked hard to put food on our table and to make sure we had a happy, rich childhood, an effort they certainly succeeded in, but not without its sacrifices.
From that experience, even when I started making money in my early 20’s, I found it incredibly difficult to break my frugal habits. It felt nearly sacrilegious to order a steak at a restaurant (something we never did when I was little) or to walk into a store and not make a beeline for the sale rack or to spend money on travel, a foreign extravagance to me.
Then I met Jason, who seemed to live in stark opposition to my coupon-clipping lifestyle. He was more than willing to spend his money on nice dinners, one-of-a-kind experiences and most definitely on travel.
He helped me let go of my compulsive need to save for an uncertain future so that I could deeply and unapologetically enjoy a very certain present.
To some degree I think it's also a generational difference. I think my parents’ generation grew up with a completely different outlook on work, retirement and saving. They were taught to be prepared for the future. The standard path was to work at your career for 40 or 50 years and once you reached retirement age, that’s when you thought you'd finally have the time and the saved money to travel, to do the things you’d always wanted to do. It was the “safe” and “stable” thing to do.
The more I think about that though, the more risky that approach sounds to me.
Saving up your minutes and your dollars for a future that holds no promises for either seems like a poor investment to me. Not to mention our health. None of us knows when we’ll no longer be able to walk or run or explore the way we can now.
I bring this up not to paint the future or growing older in some grim and sad light. I bring it up to remind us that life does not begin once we retire. It doesn’t begin "once the kids are out of the house." It doesn’t begin "when we turn 30" or "once things calm down at the office" or once we “settle down.”
Life, my friends, has already begun. Life is happening NOW right before our very eyes which is all the reason I need to take David's advice and USE. IT. UP.
Remember, the future is a gamble, while this present moment is already a guarantee. Live accordingly.
Watching Betty last weekend (you can believe that lady is STILL using it up!) was a reminder of what I want to see when I look back on my days at 90. I want to feel satisfied that I took every call to adventure, that I enjoyed my able body when I could, that I lived my moments the way that I wanted to and not the way I felt I should. I want to spend my hard-earned money on things that bring joy to my life and the lives of others.
So, here’s my simple challenge to you this week. Take a moment today to really let this fact sink in:
Not a single second of our lives do we ever get back. Time is the most precious resource and it’s the one we can never replenish.
So, ask yourself today, how am I going to use it up?
I’m so grateful to connect with each one of you every week. There’s nothing I’d rather spend my Monday mornings on, so just know that I appreciate you being here.