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Sometimes you don't get a do-over

In my life (and it's taken a very long time), I've finally learned that there are some times when you just don't get a do-over.

This month, I drove four hours up to Cape Cod to have dinner with a friend who had traveled back East with her husband to stay with friends in their old neighborhood. It was a big birthday for her and they live in Kansas now so I rarely see her anymore. Cape Cod's a lot closer than Wichita for someone like me who doesn't travel much. Our visit was wonderful, the dinner fantastic, the entire company a pleasure. The next morning, I got up early and took a long walk knowing I'd be in the car another four hours driving home.

For you, this might not amount to a big deal. But for me, it did, and I really had to think hard about whether I was going or not. The reasons why don't matter, but I am so glad, so grateful that I went. The point is this: There are some events or situations in life where you don't get a do-over. Funerals. Weddings. Birthdays. First steps. Recitals. Voting. And even if your reason for not being present is a big deal, if you miss it, you miss it. You don't get a do-over.

Do you hear me? And while some of these events are once-in-a-lifetime moments, there are plenty of other, perhaps you would think "lesser," events that may seem not really momentous at the time. I suggest you take a closer look when you hear yourself thinking, "I can make it to the next one," or "I'll send a gift," or "No one will notice I'm not there," or "It's not really that big a deal."

Listen, I get it. We all live very busy lives. There are meetings, bosses, obligations, and responsibilities. There are co-workers, employees, children, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. You can't make everyone happy all the time. And you certainly have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others -- or take care of business so you can take care of others.

As I said, I have had to learn this the hard way and it has taken me a lifetime. I missed a lot of opportunities by making choices which, in hindsight, I wish I'd done differently. And I understand that we all, me included, will always have to make difficult decisions balancing our own needs and wishes versus those of other people in our lives from the most intimate relationships to the most casual.

I am so often reminded of Annie Dillard's words, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." Remember that. Because you are creating your life with every choice you make.

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