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Appreciate Your Life
Because one day you will become a ghost
In the winter months, my wife and I like to take the dogs for frequent walks on the beach. We prefer winter beach time over the summer; there’s a lot more space and freedom because the tourist have gone home. The town is much friendlier to dogs during the winter and allow off leash time throughout the day—something we can’t get during the summer.
During one of our morning beach walks, I noticed her staring down at the sand. Was it a starfish? Or even better, a live clam? Nope. She was observing my footprints. I could see the curiosity, fascination, and bewilderment gleaming from her face as she pointed out how my whole foot—heel, toes, sole, and all—leave perfectly shaped prints into the sand.
With most people, you only see the heel and toe because the curved arch barely presses upon the earth. Not my feet, I have the flattest of flat feet. She calls them, “2 by 4s,” as if my feet were long flat boards smacking against the ground.
“How do you do that?”, she said.
I shrugged, as if it was the most natural thing that I do (because it is).
I guess it was fascinating to see a trail of flat footprints up and down the coast line. Not because I’m infatuated with my flat feet, but because it looked like an invisible man was following us. Someone once walked that path and left their mark.
That’s when I felt a profound appreciation for my life and existence. Because it was not me that left the footprints in the sand, it was the sand that allowed my foot to make its mark.
The distinction is subtle, but profound. Nature confirmed my existence and acknowledged that I am alive. Nature was allowing me to be here and take up space. It’s an act of grace. How can I respect that graciousness and appreciate this one precious life?
Because one day, there shall be no more footprints in the sand. One day nature will stop confirming my aliveness and will, instead, turn me into a ghost. If I lack appreciation for my life, if I take the graciousness of my existence for granted, I risk dying with regrets.
We often think that regret happens by not doing or saying the right thing, or by not living up to our ideals. But that’s not true, for how can we predict that those different decisions would have created a better or happier life? Maybe those decisions would have created regret.
While much of life is out of our control, what we can control is our appreciation for life. Consistent appreciation is our best chance to live with no regrets.
So I say to you: Appreciate this one life. It’s all you have.