Last Friday I accompanied my soon-to-be 81 year old mother to a birthday celebration dinner at the Sands Hotel & Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. An invitation to an event hosted by casino executives can only come about after years of a player’s contribution to maintaining such a fine establishment. In other words, years of my Mom’s slot play paid for our places at the dinner table with executives, casino hosts, and fellow players, all of whom conversed lively throughout the evening.
Unfortunately, there was one sad note: A guest informed one of the casino hosts, I’ll call her Michele, that a player she had come to know well over many years had recently died. Michele was clearly overwhelmed and brought to tears, but her tears eventually turned to laughter with stories from others at the table who knew this man and shared tales of his casino habits, his love of gaming, and his lust for life well in to his 80s and up until his death. Mary, the woman seated next to me said,
“You know what the lesson here is don’t you?” She followed with,
“While you’re alive, live!”
Such a simple statement to live by, yet we often fail to truly “live” as we find ourselves caught up in the day-to-day grind of school, work, and all else we believe we’re obligated to in order to define ourselves and to become successful.
Ariana Huffington tells us that while a eulogy recalls a person’s success as a parent, spouse, sibling, child, and friend, and recounts acts of kindness, generosity, and philanthropy, a eulogy does not detail how many days a person came in early or stayed late, his or her degree of productivity in a given quarter, or the quality of his or her PowerPoint presentations.
Yes, work is important. How else do we make names for ourselves in our chosen fields of expertise? Yet, to borrow another quote, “Work to live.” The reverse is quite distressing, and always remember, as Mary, my dinner companion so aptly stated,
“While you’re alive, live!” No one gets a second chance.