People ask me how I’m doing quite often. My response is never one of pre-programmed drivel. I always give it a moment’s thought and answer with as much honesty as I can deliver in the briefness of the encounter. Confused, hurried, challenged, and frustrated have been some of my recent responses; but there is one I say more than the others. It’s an affirmation I’ve chosen to reinforce recognition of personal progress, and it’s a way to appreciate and acknowledge the understanding that more good fortune is on the way. When someone asks me “How are you doing?” my favorite reply is, “Better every day!” I do not say this lightly or to sound witty; I actually mean it.
I’ve been doing this for years and one day it hit me in a different manner. I was working in a medical facility and had gotten on an elevator when an elderly couple stepped in behind me. They were very well dressed and most likely in their late eighties or early nineties. I got the feeling of a genuine bond between the two that seemed to go beyond love; it made me smile.
“What floor do you want?” I asked.
“Six please…. How are you doing today?”
I happened to be in a terrific mood and while smiling I quickly offered my favorite answer, “better every day!” They chuckled a little. This particular time slightly more information came to mind and I didn’t hesitate to continue expressing myself. I paused ever so slightly and continued. I turned to them as I was about to leave and said, “You know what’s great about knowing my life gets better every day? Apparently my best day will be the day I die.” They smiled broadly looking at me and then each other as the doors closed. I stunned myself a little because I had no forethought to what had just come out of my mouth. It felt as if I’d been handed a wonderful secret. I walked on to the job feeling about fifty pounds lighter; my good mood having been magnified through revelation.
I do my best to focus on the moment, but the anticipation of tomorrow motivates me to turn the pages of my life. I’m eternally grateful for what I have now; my wife, my recovery, my health, my job, my home, and my peace of mind; all of these things are gifts worthy of kings. There is little left for me to wish for; but when experience tells me tomorrow has undiscovered treasures waiting to be found, it does pique my curiosity.
I do not believe in age, I believe in progress. I think the act of looking forward keeps me young. The evidence for this observation lies in the fact that there are thousands of senior citizens who can whip me at anything physical (or mental for that matter) no matter the challenge, and of course there are twenty year olds who (by their own choices) have trouble getting off the couch. Movement in the direction of creating something seems to be the key to youthfulness. I once heard Dr. Wayne Dyer say he had made a decision to never “act” like an old man. Amen; me too. I’m sure he wasn’t talking about becoming immature or childish, just shunning the stereotype of growing old and its habits. I’m well aware physical limitations will eventually hand all of us our final moment, but it does seem to be kept at bay quite well by a select few.
I’m not seeking immortality, I’m seeking a high quality of exit. I do not fear death, I fear the “unlived” life. I refuse to live an entire lifetime where in my final moments I find myself expressing regret. Are not the dreams of tomorrow meant to be nourished by the actions of the moment? I will never believe it’s too late for that.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood