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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Most and Much

Last Saturday a friend of ours died in a mountain biking accident. She was a vibrant, joyful, and adventurous person who enjoyed and lived life to its fullest, and as it turned out, to its very end. Earlier this week I visited a church member on his ninety-first birthday in a rehabilitation center. He is rehabilitating from a stroke and has a positive attitude about his recovery.  When I left his room I passed another man in the hallway with a walker and his therapist.  I overheard this man say gloomily, "First I lose my arms, then my legs. Then I fall and that's the end of it."

The elderly gentleman in the hallway has obviously lived a long and hopefully full life, however the resignation in his voice anticipated and even embraced death. I know it is unfair to judge a person's life from one brief encounter, but I immediately wondered if he had carried a similar attitude throughout his life. In contrast, the attitudes of our friend and the elderly church member anticipate and embrace life.

All of this has me wondering about the expression "getting the most out of life," and especially the word "most."  There is no preset amount of life for which we strive.  The "most" and "much" of life depends on each person's circumstances, abilities, and especially attitude.  How we spend most of our lives, determines how much we get out of life.

The Latin expression "Carpe Diem," or "Seize the Day," seems to be mostly associated with passionately accomplishing extraordinary things, or doing ordinary things extraordinarily. It can also be taking the circumstances and abilities of the moment and putting one foot in front of the other through difficulty and challenge.  Whether we are riding a mountain trail or pushing a walker down a hallway we can still get the most out of life. In the end, we never know exactly how much we have left.

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