I lost my job a couple of years ago. I was making a solid six figure income. We were very comfortable. We were not rich but we had what we would call luxuries. We could go to the movies whenever we wanted to. We went out to dinner nearly every night. We had services to clean our house, do our dry cleaning and tend to the yard. We were financially happy. I went from that comfortable six figure income to a shallow five figure income. The five figure income is steady, honest and persistent, it just isn’t six figures. We sold extras, we dropped services, we quit doing the special things and we re-budgeted our life to fit into about one third of what we were used to earning. Financially, we are a shadow of what we once were.
My dream home, which I never achieved until late into my forties, has been foreclosed upon. I have about six months left to live in this place I have called home for the last ten years; in this house, that I built with my own two hands. In this home, my wife and I fashioned and formed, around our specific desires, wants and needs. We will need to, somehow, find another house to live in, one that we can eventually call a home. We are very confused. I have six months left to call my home, home.
My dog of 15 years has been diagnosed with cancer. She has less than six months to live. Fifteen years ago, my wife and I went searching for a black, short haired lab and the minute we saw this white, long haired mix, we fell in love. She was a roly-poly bundle of dog love. We took her home, trained her, house broke her, rose our grand children with her and loved her back as much as we could. We could never love her as much as she loved us but we tried. Today I was told she has a month to six months to live. She has cancer, bone cancer.
But, this is my life and I love it. I don’t have to work at loving it, it just happens. I ignore the desperation our weakened economy forces upon us. I shrug at the pain the loss of my home brings to me. I accept the fact that even the strongest of family pets will sometime leave us. These are regular interruptions to an otherwise very enjoyable life.
As a child I lived a life I would never want any of my children or grand children to have to endure; but I did. When I was living it I had no idea how miserable I was. Only now, when I look back, can I imagine how miserable I must have been. I may be blessed with the ability to see through the immediate and envision that which is not yet here. I can sense the silver lining on every grey cloud. I can see the pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. I wake up with the same smile I went to bed with.
Its a difficult question, how to love your life, I don’t know that there are directions for this. I try to see the good in everything.
With my six figure job I would travel all over Michigan, out to Texas, Baltimore and Indiana. It seems I was always flying somewhere; I was away from home about 50% of the time. I had no control over my income either. At times I may go a month with no income at all. I don’t know that I could keep up that pace much longer. With my new job I am only 20 minutes away. A quick drive in the morning gets me to my offce well before most other people arrive. Its a small company; I can make a full tour of the entire facility in less than 15 minutes. The pay is steady and consistent; every other Friday I have a pay check, regardless of how small it is, it’s there. Its a very comfortable company and a rewarding job. It helps me love my life.
We are losing our home but it is a 4300 sq ft monster. It costs as much to run it every month as the mortgage costs. Today we heat only one floor in the winter because we could never afford to heat the whole thing. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life skimping to make a mortgage and then skimping again to keep the house running. I want to float through the twilight years of my life. I am looking at houses that are very attractive. These are houses that, if my home sold, I could buy one of them with our equity. I would have no house payment at all. It may be a good thing we are being forced to move. It could help me love my life.
Our dog has been with us forever it seems. She was one of the first things my wife and I did together. She has known only two homes, both of them were on acreage, over ten acres each. She had the run of the estate. We never chained her up she just stuck around home and went adventuring only when she felt like it. Now, with our forced move, we may not be so lucky as to get acreage. We may end up on a city lot. What would our 15 year old dog do? How would she cope? Would we have to chain her up? It may be good that she is going to be gone before that move anyway. I don’t like it but maybe its best.
Everything that happens, happens for a reason. Everything we experience is there … because. We need to accept that and understand it. One thing that does seem to help me, if I feel a depression coming on, is simply to remember there are those who will never experience the income I enjoyed for a short ten years. There are people who will never even get to visit a home as beautiful as mine, let alone live in it. Then there are those who will never have the love of a dog of their own.
I am losing things, a lot of things, but that is just what they are – things. I have been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to enjoy those “things.” My life is independent of all of those things though. The things are simply enhancements to my life. We need only remember that, to be able to wake up in the morning and get out of bed; it is a blessing. Remember, there are those of us who still cannot get out of bed and of course there are those of us who will not wake up tomorrow morning.
I love my life. I have no directions on how you should love your life, but you should. This is the greatest gift we could ever receive and we are given it, with no strings attached. You can waste it, you can trifle it away, you can work it away, or you can simply enjoy it. It is your life, it is one of the only things you have that does not cost you anything. Whatever happens, whatever comes your way, remember this is your life. If you still have it, love it.