Life is not short, it is sudden. Changes happen in the blink of an eye, some good, some bad, and other completely irreversible and every now and then something pulls you back into reality, wakes you up and reminds you loud and clear to make every moment count (and yes, cuddling with your pet on the couch is definitely a moment worth counting).
So here are some ideas – and also reminders for myself – on how to make it count.
Stop saying “next time”
I’ve had this nasty habit for the last few years of always putting work first and responding with a “I’ll catch you next time” and unfortunately there is not always a “next time”. If you can do it now, don’t leave it for next time.
Make time for your people. Make time for people. Full stop. Make time for the beggar at the traffic light, even if it just means acknowledging his existence. Make time for yourself. Make time for nature. Make time for cuddles with your pets. Look after yourself and, if you know of someone who struggles to make time for themselves, help, take something off their hands, help.
Put down your phone
By now we all know that social media and this weird need to be constantly connected is also often disconnecting us from what is important. Just leave your phone alone every now and then.
Travel here, travel there, get out and explore. To travel doesn’t mean you have to get a stamp in your passport or even go outside of your hometown. Explore what you can with what you have; a new coffee shop, perhaps a park you haven’t visited in some time or a museum. And travel the way you want to travel, not the way a guidebook, a blog or a friend tells you to explore a place; if hitting the reset button means you want to go to a different town to read a book in front of a fireplace, do that!
Nature is a magical place.
When you travel, let your mind wander and think twice about the decisions you are making, especially when it comes to animals, interacting with other cultures and the things you buy/eat/drink.
Hit the reset button
It is necessary.
Take photos of friends, take photos of your surroundings, take selfies, take memories.
But never forget to look up and put the camera away. Look at the stars, the moon, the canopy of trees above your head. Look up.
Eat less meat
Ja, ja. I know you are a South African (well most of you) and you like your braai but the truth is that our planet is getting too hot to handle and by scaling down on meat and dairy you can reduce your environmental impact on the planet. No, don’t roll your eyes.
I’ve never had green fingers but lately I’ve been obsessed with plants and I’m constantly watching videos on how to propagate different fruits and vegetables; we’ve all seen these videos where you put toothpicks in an avo pit and then the pit will crack and a tiny little tree will start to grow. But then I watched another video that said it will take anything from 10 to 15 years for an avocado tree to bear fruit. Truth be told, 10 years sounds like a lifetime, but if I did it 5 years ago I would’ve been halfway there already. And of course the avo tree is a metaphor for a lot of things in life – dreams and goals – and as the Chinese Proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is today.”
Many plants are like the gift that keeps on giving. If you just start with one little cutting it will have no end; I started my first mint plant from a bag of mint cuttings from Checkers; I stripped the leaves, put it in water and waited for it to root before I transferred it to a pot.
And while plants’ growth is obvious, it still blows my mind that with a little effort we can be self-sustainable – even if that means just growing herbs in the kitchen.
There is no way I would’ve believed you if you told a few months ago that plants would bring me so much joy.
Your mother was right.
Just drink it.
Don’t take it for granted, save water where you can.
Do more of what makes you happy
It is not always possible to do JUST the things that make you happy, but I truly believe we should do more of what makes us happy; whether it is a hobby, taking naps or just being by yourself.
Love more, love deeper
This is where you should say ‘life is too short’. Life is too short to not love, it is too short for grudges, hate and bitterness.
Tell people things
Tell those around your that you love and appreciate them. Give compliments.
Ask people things
If you need help, ask for it. If you have a gut feeling that someone might be going through a difficult time, check in.
Just stop. Comparison is the thief of joy.
Dream and work on that dream. You owe yourself that.
Say “thank you”
Gratitude is a beautiful thing, whether it is towards someone else, yourself, the universe or a deity.
Don’t wait for an opportunity to knock on your door, break down your own door and create your own opportunities.
Dan Mace once said, “Opportunity doesn’t exist, it is called work and it is on every corner of every street.”
Are all of the above easier said than done?
Then start with one.
Live with all your heart, make it count
Sometimes the suddenness of life just reminds you of this again: You only have one life, LIVE IT.
*When I started with this blog post I had no idea that it would turn into such a wake-up call, it even had a different title a few days ago. But when the phone call came on Tuesday, it slapped me across the face that life is not short, it is sudden so MAKE IT COUNT.
The South African and African travel community recently lost a legend, a pioneer, a bold adventurous spirit who always made it “count”.
Goodbye Meruschka. I really wish I met up with you the last time you were in PE, I really wish I changed dates, made a plan and didn’t say “next time”. Thank you for leading the way, thank you for always being such an example of living life to the fullest, for standing up for the voiceless, for always being that energizer-bunny brimming with passion and bubbling with joy. You were – you are – a legend, a remarkable soul and you will always be Mzansi’s girl. I’m sure you and Andy are jumping up a storm.
Much love to every family member and friend.