It’s not dying I’m talking about Woodrow…it’s living!
-Gus McCray (Lonesome Dove)
I remember well the day we met Pat. A sweet, mature lady with a big smile, the kindest eyes, and the heart of a child. Yet somehow she still managed to look like a spitfire… I could tell she was no pushover! She came to help Deb, her dear friend (and ours), set up shop for the weekend. She was quiet at first; just observing and listening intently as Joe told her story after story of our travels and grand adventures. Like most of the people we meet, she was amused with Joe and his “I do what I want” attitude (as he was cooking burgers on the camp grill behind our booth). As the weekend went on we got to know each other and shared a couple of beers. She told us that she had recently lost her husband (the same year that Joe had lost his dad); you could still feel her grief and sadness.
We were set up next to each other for three LONG days- long show hours and physically draining- with plenty of time in between working, to visit with our neighbors. It’s one of the best things about doing what we do, meeting and making friends with the people whose paths we cross. Lasting friendships are one more reason to look forward to returning year after year to the same places.
Joe and I had just returned from our trip to the grand canyon a few weeks before and we were busy telling Pat and Deb all about it. All Pat could do was smile and shake her head, so happy that we had had the experience that we did; she was truly joyful for us. And as we continued talking she told us she was sorry that she and her husband had not had/made the time to do the things they had wanted to do. They did travel, and they did take trips, but like so many others, they were waiting for retirement to travel and see the things they wanted to see. Now he was gone, and it was too late to do those things, together.
This was a defining moment for Joe and I. It was on that weekend that we realized the life that we live is just that…the LIFE that we CHOOSE to LIVE. I never really thought about how our stories (yours and mine) Impact each other. It’s where we get our inspiration and our desire to do better; live better, and dream bigger.
When I was in college I had a class called Strategies for Success (it was one of my favorites) and I remember well our instructor telling us that “without goals we die.” That has always stuck with me and I have always believed it to be true (literally and or figuratively). It makes sense: if you have nothing left to look forward to, nothing to keep you moving forward day after day, dreading getting out of bed in the morning and hating life; isn’t that the same as dying, even if you are still physically breathing?
When we told Pat of our dream to walk the Appalachian Trail that next summer she was so excited for us! She couldn’t wait to see us the next year and to hear the stories that we (Joe) would surely have to tell. That trip hasn’t happened yet-(we somehow always manage to land in the mountains out west, instead) but it will happen! She encouraged us to keep doing what we’re doing and to get everything out of life that we possibly could. She told us that we inspired her and she genuinely hoped that we would always continue to do the things that bring us joy. She knows all too well the feeling of regret that we would have if we did otherwise. And maybe regret isn’t the right word…maybe ‘longing’ is better. A longing to always do the things you had planned to do, but didn’t. It’s not that Pat couldn’t go and do those things now, by herself or with a friend, but it’s not the same as it would have been with her beloved.
Joe and I are on a mission: travel much, take risks, get on the lake, climb the mountains, walk the trails, ride the bike, meet the people, make awesome candles, and inspire others. You will most likely see us traveling down the road pulling our trailer (canoe on top of the truck-ALWAYS!) looking for our next adventure. Because life is an adventure when you choose it to be. And we are far from done.
So Pat tells us we inspire her, but the truth is…she inspires us! She inspires us to live better, to keep dreaming, to set bigger goals, to never stop doing what we love to do and to never ever wait to do it. Live now.
When we last left her she gave us both a big hug and even more encouragement. She makes me feel so full- soul-full! And she’s a treasure. Thank you Pat for always being a good listener and an even better teacher.
Get busy living or get busy dying.