The alarm sounds, the mind wakes up, and unless we are on vacation, our to-do list unfurls itself in our head. We roll out of bed and think, what do I have to do today?
The unfurled list follows us to the bathroom. Joins us in the shower and then rides shotgun as we make our way through our day.
A few years ago, a woman I knew and cared about died. Although we weren’t super close, I considered her a friend. Our boys had played together when they were younger. She volunteered. She was a loyal Green Bay Packers fan. She collected candy every Halloween for the military. She had a contagious laugh. She loved her husband. She loved her son. She was in love with her life. She survived cancer.
Then, years later, cancer survived her.
We went to her funeral. Her Rabbi knew her well, so well that he told stories that made all of us laugh until we cried. The room was packed; countless people showed up to honor her. She had not only touched them, but the life she lived had made a difference.
When the service finished, we all made our way to the doors. And as we walked, I couldn’t help but wonder about Linda’s list. All her to-do’s, dreaded or not, would be left undone.
Outside and headed to the car, I thought about all the people I had loved and lost. The countless lives cut short from illness, car accidents, even drugs. It occurred to me that chances were good that any one of them would have given anything to live one more day–list and all. I bet if they could be given one more day, they wouldn’t spend it hung up on what they “had” to do. Nope. Pretty sure they would reframe their mindset and instead say, “Look at all I get to do today.”
Get—one little word. Huge difference.
The word “get” reminds us not to squander our time. It invites us to connect with people. And if we are lucky, it allows us to not only understand the true fortune that living another day is, but to feel it.
So what can we do?
We can refuse to sit on the sideline of our own life. We can seek out the extraordinary. Find and extend joy. Shake off the blues. Tear down the boundaries that hold us back. Right a wrong. Apologize. Forgive. Love. Extend permission to ourselves to call our shots. Find ways to be still. Be of service. Use our voice. Have and express gratitude.
The word “get” says: Go ahead and live. Jump in with all your heart. Make a splash. The ripples you create will tell the story of your life.
I love the change in mind set of ‘get to’ instead of ‘have to’!
Glad you liked it, thank you!
Cheryl Nicholl says
This is awesome and so simple! Of course! It’s the ‘Get’. Brilliant.
Carol Cassara says
This change of orientation means everything, when it comes to living a full life. Yes, GET.
Tam Warner Minton says
We never know how long we have….and mortality is letting us know we don’t have forever. David Bowie passed yesterday?!!!! I wake up and am glad it’s not me…at least not today…or right now, rather.
So true, we don’t know how many days we get, best to live them fully and with gratitude too.
Beth Havey says
Funerals always make me think of my future, of my very life. I am saddened for the person who has left this earth, but often plunged into doubt about my time left here and how I am using it. Thanks for sharing your feelings.
So true Beth, they really do make one ponder, I have the sense that you cherish your time here and use it well. Thanks for being here today.
Beth Havey says
Thanks again for your comment. I wrote back and hope that you got my response. Having some trouble with the guts of my blog, working to clear it up, Beth
Roxanne Jones says
Yes, “get” to! It changes the entire focus, making us view our “obligations” as blessings. I’m grateful I get to have deadlines, because it means my medical writing services are in demand. I’m glad I get to clean my house, because it means I have a house to live and take pride in. I’m happy I get to load the dishwasher, because it means I shared a satisfying meal with my husband. Great reminder, Elin!
Oh how I love your list, Roxanne! Thank you for sharing all the things you get to do and why they have meaning too, beautiful!
Roz Warren says
Inspiring! Amazing how that re-framing shift makes all the difference. I give you credit for coming away from a funeral with an insight like that. I never learn anything at funerals other than that what a crybaby I am. (I always weep at funerals. Even when I’ve never met the deceased. It’s idiotic and embarrassing.)
I am a weeper too, I see it as a way of diving into the emotion and also allowing it to release.
Elin, thanks for this column- I think about the same type of things every day, especially with Linda, who lived her life in a way I admire so much, taking advantage of everyday tasks, connecting with people and transforming so many of them into her friend. Love you too, my friend!
What a wonderful surprise to find you here today, Kris, thank you for taking the time to read and comment too. I’m with you, there was so much to admire about Linda, she truly embraced her time here and all the people that came into her life too. Love you back!
Ellen Dolgen says
Elin, this is so beautifully written. I totally, “get” it. You are so right, we get so hung up on our silly lists and petty life situations…this is a good reminder to live to its fullest – each day at a time.
Thank you, Ellen.
Lois Alter Mark says
I LOVE THIS! Adding the word “get” to the “to do” list is life-changing. I am definitely doing this. And you could have a great product line from this, by the way 🙂
Now that’s a fun idea, t-shirts coming up! Thanks for the kind words, Lois.
So beautiful in it’s message and simplicity. Thank you for reminding us that we are so privileged to live every day.
Find and extend joy – I love that. Thanks so much for the post. Great reading and yes, get is my new buzzword now!
Thank you, glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
a direct and vital expression of one’s contributions and choices in life as well as the people who inspire them
Thank you, Rod.
Ruth Curran says
How lucky am I that I “get” to start my day with your beautifully crafted, uplifting words. Thank you for that gift :)!
Aw, thanks, Ruth, love your clever play on words too. 😉