Every day can be the best day of one's life

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 9, 2004

Over the past few weeks I have received many thoughtful contributions to our discussion of mortality and the embrace of life.

Cochrane resident Catherine Aylesworth, who helped launch this topic, wrote back:

"I respect the need to accept death as part of life..., but my biggest point is that we should truly live life while we're living. Life is in the living!"

If life is in the living, then Cochrane-area resident Ernest Enns, currently in Europe, is embracing it for all its worth:

"Treasure each day and make it a memory," he wrote. "I am fighting my age in a way by riding my bicycle across Spain, but of course I can't put off the inevitable end which I do not fear. I have now ridden 1,400 km, and over 17,000 metres was uphill. That is twice the height of Mt. Everest, so am working the aging bod."

Sometimes, however, our bodies and spirits get beaten up pretty badly along the journey. We saw this in last week's reflection on the battered boat in Thomas Cole's paintings Voyage of Life: Manhood and Old Age, and in the example of the late Becky Beaver, the Stoney Nakoda elder who chose life over death when struck with blindness as a youth.

One of our coffee companions, in her own way, has travelled in Cole's boat, has walked in Becky's moccasins:

SO CLOSE to the rivers edge I was. So close to embracing that which would steal my life's breath away. The cloud of indecision passed quickly and with it came life as new as the rising sun.

I have found the way to embrace this life is to take hold of life and death and eternity and fill my mind with the God-honoring thought that it all belongs to us. For if we seek to possess only one element of God's plan, then we will never find the greater meaning of this life he has given us.

When I sought death, life and eternity fled in the dark wings of despair. The times that I chose to embrace life for the pure pleasure of what it provided my carnal soul, I awoke feeling hungry and unsatisfied. Then I chose the path of a quitter and sat down, with a decided thud on my suitcase, awaiting my departure to a better life, straining my neck by looking upwards so that I lost all contact with the humanness of love and pain and sorrow and joy.

Today I wake up and thank God for my life, made so much in His image, yet not enough that I do not search for Him each day. . . . In my many exhilarating trips down the river paths of Cochrane, God heals my soul with the breeze in my face. His flowers and budding trees are the aromatherapy to what ails me. Unclouded by the confines of a building, I have found the House of God, and He has welcomed me with open arms.

—Colette Broder, Cochrane

THEN THERE'S this note from the Patient Representative at Calgary's Tom Baker Cancer Centre:

I APPRECIATE Becky's attitude. Someone once said it's not what life gives you that's important, it's how you handle it. I hope, at the end of my days, my boat is battered and barely recognizable from its once new shiny self. That will mean I took God's challenge to meet each day head on, whether it be a good or not so good day. God gave us choices in how to meet our days.

After facing cancer on four occasions, I choose to make each day the best day of my life, and you by the way, are helping me celebrate it! Mind you, if I see you tomorrow or next week, I'll say the same thing. Thanks for helping me celebrate every day as the best day of my life.

I remember you did a column once on epitaphs. Wonder if mine will read, "There she goes, off on another adventure."

—Barbara Cameron, Calgary

THANK YOU, readers, for your reminders that life is, indeed, in the living.

© 2004 Warren Harbeck

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