One month after retiring, Miguel was diagnosed with cancer and died suddenly. His plans for the future never came to fruition and all the years of hard work and sacrifice amounted to broken dreams for his wife; dreams that swirled without rhythm, like dust in a windstorm.
This tragic event greatly affected my friend John. The death of his father changed the way he viewed life. Life was no longer about planning for the future but for living in the present. Life was not meant to be spent rehashing the past or worrying about the future. After Miguel’s death, John viewed life as a series of choices made daily: to live in the present, cherish the little things, and be free to act and take chances.
Following his father’s death, John had a tattoo placed on his back reading “Carpe Diem”. Then, spontaneously, John planned a trip to Spain, taking unplanned time out from work to fulfill a childhood dream of his: to run with the bulls.
Photo credit: Susana Vera/Reuters
During a phone conversation with John last night, he asked me how I had spent my day off, and I told him. After listening to my response, John grew quiet. Then, my friend said to me: “You know, there are people worse off. You wasted a beautiful day. You could have spent it being happy. 'I run with the bulls.' That's my philosophy. No matter what, that's what I do. You're worrying about things that may not happen. Be happy. Learn to run with the bulls!”
Running with the bulls: an act of freedom, taking a chance, trying something new, having a mind of one’s own, not letting fear stand in your way, living for the moment. It's like playing the part of John Keating in that one scene from Dead Poets Society. Shouldn't every day be “extraordinary”?
The happiest people live in the present. It’s a lesson I need to remember.