I was writing a blog post for today about what happens after you reach your goals. How do you go on and sustain the gains after you’ve “crushed it?” What happens then? I was writing that post and maybe I will finish it but as I was taking a quick mental health break, I heard the news about Kobe Bryant’s death and my mind was distracted all day.
Yes, he was a celebrity, an athlete. Someone I probably have very little in common with, to be honest, but the news of the helicopter crash and his sudden death along with his teenage daughter hit me hard. I saw a photo of his daughter’s basketball team at the game she didn’t make it to and that’s when the tears started for me. The appointment missed.
During the eulogy at my mother’s funeral, the pastor shared that he had an appointment with my mom that day. The day that we were all sitting there in her church for her funeral, he was supposed to meet with her to talk about some direction of some committee. My mom had strong opinions and she wasn’t afraid to speak up, even to her pastor, about the direction she felt things should go. (If you’ve ever locked horns with me, you know who to blame now.) There’s something about the missed appointments that brings up the tragedy of sudden losses for me. Making plans and setting appointments to meet or play or race is just part of every day life. When we make the plans, we fully expect to be there. Maybe we’ll need to cancel or reschedule but we don’t expect the other person’s life to end before the appointment. We don’t expect our life to end either.
But here’s the thing: tomorrow is not promised. I’m only 36 years old but I know this truth all too intimately. My brother packed up his truck one morning in Detroit and had tickets to see the Indians home game in Cleveland that weekend. He didn’t make it to that game. He fully expected to make it, he didn’t expect to die that day. My mom went bowling the day she had her aortic dissection, she had an appointment with her pastor later that week.
Buddhism teaches us that impermanence is simply a characteristic of existence. All things are impermanent, including our lives. They evolve, they change, they end and we can’t always predict when or how or why. You can get really depressed about this and start to feel like nothing matters but I like to see it the other way: every moment matters. Hug your loved ones today and tell them how much you care about them. Tweet at that writer you enjoy, tell them you loved their book. Do what you can to find peace in the present moment today. Tomorrow isn’t promised.