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The Last Dance | S.D. Henke

I don’t know about any of you, but I assume we’ve all had thoughts of our own mortality with everything going on lately. And, interestingly enough, I’ve recently found myself thinking about that on a grander scale. I mean, what would it actually be like to live life as if everything we did might be the last time. By no means do I intend to write an entire blog post on something that morbid, but on the flip side, I do intend to write this as if it is the last blog post I’ll ever get to write.

No need to worry. I’m doing great! In fact, better than great. This quarantine has done more to my brain and thinking patterns than I realized, and I’ll admit there have been some good things that have arrived out of the pause. Since the pandemic started I’ve been walking every day. There was this thing going viral to set a 30-day goal to form a habit. Let me just say, I’m way past thirty. So, in line with my new habit came all the ‘thinking’. Like some part of myself has been asleep for quite a long time and I’m just now waking up to it.

I’ve discovered that I’m noticing new things. Things I never attended my focus to before. Like the other day when I was walking in the park and the breeze picked up, how with it, came the scent of the fruit trees nearby. When I came near the tree, the smell was overpowering. The tree was in bloom with little fists of white flowers. I don’t know how long I stood there, but I’ve been taking the time to observe these moments now when I walk. The other day when the sun was shining I could actually feel it pressing down my shoulders to relax. The other morning out my window the birds were singing without the sound of cars to drown out their song. Inevitably, I’ve caught myself imagining the clichéd ‘What if’ in those very moments.

What if this was the last time I could ever experience this again?

Then, all the other ‘What if’s’ dissolved. What if this shelter in place returns to a quarantine lockdown again? What if the virus mutates and then we’re dealing with multi-viruses? What if the flattening of the curve balloons as a result of our loosening restrictions? What if I get sick, or someone I love gets sick? Instead of coming out of those moments dejected and down, I’m meeting myself right square where I am in the moment, and I realize that there is so much more to be paying attention to! So much more than I ever dreamed!

Operating under this mindset has completely changed my experience with the events surrounding me. It’s weird, but I realize how time truly passes within or without the constructs we define. Slowing it down has helped me open my eyes to see that there is plenty of time to get in what I want and need to achieve. While still living under some structure with my work and supporting my two children with schooling at home, I feel like I have control over this. I can’t remember having this kind of control since I was a child and it felt like I had an eternity to sift through.

Now, I find myself applying this to as much as is possible in my everyday life. I hold to it when I get up in the morning and I say good morning to my children and my husband. I don’t just let moments slide. I move into them with intention, and focus, and purpose.

These days when I settle in to write each morning, and I’ve gifted myself the time to crank out words, ideas are getting down on the page whether it matters or not. I just remind myself that these could be the last words I ever write. I make them matter. This somehow changes key operating factors in my writing time. Whether I pick up the pace or ponder longer, whatever it is that happens has become a doorway rather than a blockade.

You’ve all heard it at 8:00 at night. The nightly howling sessions. Something as simple as howling at the moon becomes a more sacred event when I imagine it might be the last time. Try it tonight. Turn on your focal attention. Let your senses pick up and absorb what you might never have before. Even the sound of the air moving around you can be carved out of this experience. When they say time is of the essence, think about what it means to be or not to be present in each moment and in those very individual moments be grateful for the pause.

So, if you’re anything like me and you always feeling like you’re running out of time, turn the dial down, unplug from the constructs that hold you back. Hold to the notion that this might be the very last time. Don’t let it scare you, let it empower you. Perhaps you’ll discover like I did that time isn’t of the essence. It’s of presence.

Go out and do the good things! Write that poem, play your guitar, sing the song, call a loved one, take a walk in the park, grow vegetables in your garden, and howl at the moon like it could be the last time.

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