I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. — Henry David Thoreau
While vacationing in New Hampshire a few summers ago I attended a play at The Peterborough Players. At the front of the barn that houses the playhouse are paved cobblestones engraved with the names and dates of donors. I was not really reading the stones, but one of them caught my eye, and I stopped in my tracks. Instead of a donor’s name, this particular stone had an inscription that reminded me of something incredibly important.
It read, “It goes by fast.”
Reading these simple words took my breath away. They woke me up and made me pause. It goes by fast. My life is flying by, I thought. If I don’t pay attention, I’m going to miss it. What can I do to make time slow down? What can I do to live more fully?
When I started breathing again, I glanced at my then seventeen-year-old daughter. Holy shit, I thought to myself, she is almost out the door! I looked at my wonderful in-laws sailing through their senior years and thought, “Crap, I’m going to be a senior in a blink of an eye!”
I couldn’t shake those words. It was like an angel had delivered a very special message — one that I needed to hear.
Some wise soul paid to put a reminder on that stone, and I am sure that thousands have walked over it, perhaps only a few seeing its powerful message. I feel fortunate enough to have allowed its whisper to find my ear that night.
The meaning of those four words penetrated my soul, and in many ways, woke me up.
Our precious lives go by fast.
In a blink of an eye our children are grown up. In what seems like a flash, we are old. I don’t want to miss any more of my life dwelling on drama. I won’t allow myself to waste my life holding onto opinions or judging others.
I simply want to take time to soak in the experience of my precious life, to lie down in the grass and look up at the stars..I want to suck the marrow out of each moment and experience life with all of my senses. I want to savor my life and never have the gut-sinking sense that it went by fast. And when I die, I want to discover that I have lived.