I used to have a countdown app on my phone. It would tell me how many days until the next thing I was looking forward to: graduation, Winter Break, Spring Break, summer, my next trip, the next time I’d get to see family or friends. I loved seeing those days tick closer, feeling like I could get through whatever stood between me and that countdown reaching zero, as long as I knew there was something to look forward to.
The day that my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer was the day I deleted that app. I held down the app on my iPhone until the app was shaking as much as I was and said good riddance. I did not want to see that each day I was getting closer to Spring Break or summer because that also meant that I was one day closer to losing the woman who gave me life and filled it with so much beauty, wonder, and joy. I suddenly had a very real reminder that each and every day was so precious and I did not want to see them tick away. I felt a pang of guilt for all of the days that I had wished away in the past.
In that moment, I made a very conscious decision that I did not want to live a life where I was only looking forward to what was to come. I never wanted to live a life where I was just killing time until the next thing that made life exciting. I never wanted to live a life where I was just going through the motions to get to a part of life that I was excited for. I never wanted to look back and see that I was just going through the motions to get to the “good stuff.” I wanted to see the good stuff in every day. I wanted to live a life where every day was a reminder that I was glad to have that day.
I went through a phase where I thought that in order to do that, maybe I needed to quit my stable job, sell all of my belongings, jump out of a plane at least once a week, definitely stop sleeping at night because who has time for sleep when there’s a lot of living to do, and see a new country every week. The type A personality in me realized that would be a logistical nightmare. The my mother’s daughter in me realized that living a full life also entailed a lot of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, that life happened in the little things just as much as the big things.
A full life happens in the big and small moments. Driving to a job you love on a Monday morning. Pursuing opportunities that fill your soul. Buying that plane ticket. Taking on things that challenge you. Going back to school. Sitting in a quiet coffee shop. Completing your 200 hour yoga teacher training. Taking a nap on a Saturday afternoon. Trekking across El Camino. Sitting with a friend in the tough stuff. Road tripping across the country. Walking away from the things that no longer serve you or cause you to get lost in the mundane. Taking a long walk. Stepping outside of your comfort zone Having a kitchen dance party. Doing some soul searching. Feeling all your feels. Watching The Bachelor with your friends. Pausing every now and then to be thankful for all of it.
Believe me, I still look forward to what is to come. In a few weeks, I look forward to a break from a job that I love but that also drains me to travel to Florida with my precious family. This summer has a big, exciting trip in store for me. Someday I’ll be done with my Master’s. Looking forward to those things isn’t wrong. I just don’t want to miss all the living happening between now and then.