John Lennon said ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’ in the lyrics to ‘Beautiful Boy’ which he had written for his youngest, Sean.
Knowing full well how precious every single day is and quoting each word of wisdom relating to life by heart, why is it that in the hustle and bustle of life, we lose focus every so often and forget to grab life by the hair and make it happen?
In the quest of mastering the art of ‘Carpe Diem’ (Remember Robin Williams in ‘Dead Poets Society’ whispering in your ears, ‘Seize the day, suck the marrow of life’? Or am I dating myself?), I came up with a list of advice to pin up on my bathroom mirror and skim through every morning, and here it goes:
Never leave home after a fight. Remember that the door you slammed in your loved one’s face may be the same one you may be knocking on within the hour.
In arguments, bite your tongue when you feel a bitter word about to slip. Words leave deeper scars than blows, and sometimes impossible to mend.
Call your mum once a day, or every other day, or once a week at least. She’ll appreciate the small gesture and you’ll realise you’ve actually missed her.
Accept this one truth: you’ll never get on with your dad. He may be the cold patriarch at the head of the table or the lovey-dovey little man trying to be a part of your life, or the sad fuddy-duddy trying desperately to ‘get down’ and be cool, failing miserably. Just hope you’ll understand him before it’s too late.
Understand your parents before it’s too late.
And respect them.
One day you will become a parent yourself. Then you’ll want to be understood. And respected.
Love your children, but don’t try to mould them into what you want them to be, or worse, what you’ve always wanted to be. They’re not Play-dough. When it’s time to let go, set them free and hope they will find their feet without stumbling. Yet if they do – and they will, be there for them. Not to say ‘I told you so’ but to be there and hold their hand to help them get back up.
Treat your teeth well. Once they are gone, your life will be much harder, so will every bite you take.
Don’t invest a fortune in beauty lotions and potions. They won’t make you look better, younger, slimmer; they’ll only end up making you feel ugly, old, fat.
Enjoy glossy magazines, but don’t let them dictate your diet, relationship or finances.
As you go through the journey called life, remember there will uncharted territory on the way. Vale and mountains, ups and downs.
It is not how many vales you cross or how many mountains you climb that matters, it is how you deal with the track on the way.
Deal with it with a smile.
Don’t suffer fools gladly.
Don’t patronise anyone, don’t let anyone patronise you.
Drink two litres of water a day.
It is difficult to do either when you are twenty, but when you are forty, you’ll wish you had.
Do not judge a person before you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. You never know whose track is slippery or whose shoes pinch until you walk in their shoes.
Don’t let anyone judge you either. If they do, hand them lend them your shoes.
In your head, you’re Mariah Carey; in reality, you are a screeching cat on helium.
It really doesn’t matter. Sing your heart out.
Hold on to your friends. Don’t let work, marriage or children get in the way of picking up the phone or dropping a line. When work, marriage or children fail you, you have your friends to pick up the pieces and dry the tears.
Take up a hobby, whether it be gardening, photography or mountaineering. A hobby is like an old friend you can rely on through at times of cold solitude.
Accept that as seasons change, friends will come and go. Take change as you would the changing of the seasons.
Be kind to your knees. You will miss them when they are gone.
Take a road-trip cross-country once.
Throw caution, and the map, to the wind. The more you get lost, the more you’ll find the true you. And when you do, wind down the windows, turn up the volume, sing your heart out in celebration.
Stay up all night once a month, just to enjoy the silence and solitude the night bestows on us. And watch the glorious sunrise before you fix yourself a cup of hot lemon or toddle back to bed.
Drink hot lemon in the morning. It cleanses and purifies. The older you get, the more you’ll find cleansing and purification are good for the body.
And for the soul.
Exercise three times a week. Not just because people tell you you need to, but because when you go home after a hard day and have that bar of chocolate or pizza in the freezer, you’ll feel better knowing you’ve worked for it.
A clear conscience is worth an hour on the treadmill or a hundred sit-ups.
Have chocolate as often as you can.
It is good for the soul.
Take a good look in the mirror every day. The face that looks at you is your best friend and oldest companion on the journey of life.
You’d better smile back.
Feel at ease in your skin. Don’t trade it for anyone else’s.
Cherish each wrinkle and each strand of grey hair. They are the mere proof that you’ve lived a worthwhile life.
Working in your office, cleaning the house, working through your weekly budget; whatever unsavoury task you are burdened with, do not watch the time and wish away the hours.
Every hour you wish away is an hour stolen from life.
Grit your teeth through and thank your lucky stars that you have an office, a house and a budget to worry about.
What is more, you have the present day.
Whatever you do, just don’t forget to grab life and make it happen!