Imagine being able to predict the future, knowing what lies ahead in your life and all the amazing changes that are in store for our world. This past week, I found an unread magazine in a kitchen cupboard and glanced briefly at the date, noticing it was from June. I got absorbed in a fascinating feature article about the history and future of Calgary before something suddenly seemed amiss and I checked the publication date again. As it turned out, I hadn’t looked closely enough, because the magazine actually turned out to be from June of 2012. Oops.
Unless you’ve been hiding out in a bomb shelter the last month, you know what kind of unprecedented maelstrom the great city of Calgary has been going through lately. Massive flooding, extended blackouts, a state of emergency and derailed freight trains are just some of the tests the residents have been put through. Somehow, they’ve still managed to pull it all together in time to hold their signature Calgary Stampede, which is a massive tribute to its citizens’ fortitude, resilience and positive attitude.
Of course, reading an article from last year, it was like none of this had ever happened – because, of course, it hadn’t yet. If that same article was written about the city today, it makes you wonder how differently it would have turned out.
Similarly, another article was about the financial and artistic success of Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil, the worldwide billion-dollar entertainment juggernaut. How things have changed in the 12 months since that article came out. In January, the company announced the layoff of 400 employees, close to ten percent of its workforce. On top of that, a veteran Cirque acrobat died during a performance in Las Vegas at the end of last month, the first fatality in the troupe’s nearly 30-year history.
Again, with those earth-shattering changes taking place, how would a story about the Cirque du Soleil be different if it was being written today, rather than being composed a year ago?
All of this made me ponder the precious, unpredictable nature of our lives. Day after day, we go about our business without giving much thought to what could possibly lie ahead. I am guiltier of this than just about anybody. Routinely, I take for granted my family, my friends, my health and, indeed, my very life. And I bet that applies to many people.
When our anniversary comes up each year, we might thank our spouse for being there for us. If our boss gives us a pat on the back or a small raise, it reminds us that we’re lucky to have a job. When Canada Day passes each year, we think about how fortunate we are to live in a free country with universal health care and a decent standard of living. But, for so many of our days we’re content to let life wash over us, without stopping to consider how quickly it could all be gone.
Not to be too dramatic, but everything we have, every single person we hold close to our hearts, all the tiny things that make our lives what they are could be gone in an instant. Boom. That’s it.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Although she may not be the world’s most eloquent philosopher, Oprah Winfrey was definitely on to something when she said those words.
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big or wanting more, but it’s easy to get caught up in chasing rainbows – when many of those rainbows are already yours to enjoy. Right here. Right now. People used to say, “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” There are likely hundreds of other quotes and song lyrics and philosophies that restate the same premise in a different way.
However you want to say it, absolutely no one knows what’s around the next corner, let alone what the future holds down its long, winding, unpredictable path. All we can know for sure is what we have at this very moment – and how important it is to take every tiny morsel of our lives and celebrate it for all it’s worth. The party starts now.