That odd game of Life

There are only two sure things in life: death and taxes. Most of us are painfully aware of taxes and plan carefully around them, yet most of us turn a blind eye to our mortality. We live as if we were eternal. We spend our days as if they were unlimited.

Death has been on my radar lately. My sister’s 46 year old friend literally dropped dead in her bathroom leaving four children behind. The woman who birthed me died in March from ovarian cancer at the age of 68. Just two days ago, I found out that author Amy Krouse Rosenthal died at age 51, also in March and also from ovarian cancer. I loved her Encyclopedia of an ordinary life and even penned my own, but undoubtedly her last essay, “You may want to marry my husband”, will stay in my heart forever.
It makes no sense to bury our head into a hole and wish death away. We are all going to die and, worse yet, we don’t know when. People died yesterday. People will die tomorrow. People are dying at this very moment.

You and I are alive.

When was the last time you listened to that heartbeat of yours and said thank you?
When was the last time you chewed on some yummy food and actually savored it?
When was the last time you looked at the blue sky and consciously breathed in the miracle that is life on this Earth?

I just returned from a 9-week trip with stops in Ohio, New York, Italy, Reunion island, Paris and Los Angeles. The level of stress in most places is so high you could cut into it with a knife. People are rushing on the freeways, rushing in the subways, haggard, tired, and beat down.
People have forgotten to smile and look each other in the eyes. They’ve learned to tune the world out, to ignore the person whose armpit is inches away from their face. But humans are social beings and when we forego a connection with the outer world, our inner world suffers.

We don’t need to rush to our death.

We need to slow down and live.
We need to lock eyes with the stranger on the street and smile.
We need to take our foot off the pedal and let the other car into traffic.
We need to stand up in the metro to give our seat to the old lady or the 4 year old child.

Above all, we need to take the time to figure out how we want to spend our most precious commodity: time.
That’s why our family travels. In 4 weeks we head to Australia. In 8 weeks, we journey back to Japan.
We choose not to wait for a later that may or may not come.

Don’t just write the bucket list, make a dent in it.

In face of the very real possibility of tragedy coming our way at any given moment, we choose Joy in the meantime.
We choose now over later.
We choose together over alone.
We choose trust over fear.
We choose kindness over selfishness.
We choose experiences over things.

A choice made and remade, with each new day we’re blessed with.

When we explain that we travel the world for work (this year we’ll be on the road over 3 months total), people either think that we’re crazy or that we’re lucky. We might be a little of both but truth is, our lifestyle is the result of our decisions.

A decision to move to Hawaii instead of staying in Los Angeles.
A decision to make sleeping in and napping a priority.
A decision to not open a full time martial arts school but only teach two days a week.
A decision to combine destinations and schedule seminar tours instead of going back and forth every weekend.
A decision to travel as husband and wife even if it meant more out of pocket expenses.
A decision to homeschool so our daughter could also come along.

In our developed world, we all have a great deal of leeway in determining our circumstances. Even when challenges happen that are out of our control, we can decide how we face them.

I ain’t escaping death, but I won’t go down without a fight.

To live, intentionally, joyfully.
To love, truly, madly, deeply.
That’s the only way I can think of to win at that odd game of life.


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