Wednesday, 10 July 2013


Long before Nike ever coined "Just Do It" in 1988 for their highly successful advertising campaign, Sylvia, a friend and valued mentor to me, was living by and espousing these three words in her highly successful real estate career. Her no nonsense, "just do it" attitude to life and what needed to be done inspired me to make advances in my own career. Recent events and conversations have profoundly moved me and have reminded me of the wisdom to be found in this oh, so simple phrase. The fragility of human life has been brought starkly into focus.

Unforeseen outside forces can transform or snuff out lives in a nano second. This year's devastating F5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, the loss of nineteen trained firefighters while battling a deadly Arizona wildfire, the tragic train crash in Lac-Megantic, even this week's rain storm and freak flooding in Toronto changed lives in a flash. Did the employee merrily chatting at her Moore, Oklahoma workplace understand that she would have no home to return to that day? Did the late night clientele enjoying the Musi-Cafe have any idea that their lives would so instantly come to such a violent end? Did the nineteen firefighters foresee that powerful gusts would abruptly split the fire, driving it in two directions, ultimately trapping and killing them? Did the Toronto commuter begin his drive home understanding that he would be caught in dangerous surging flood waters, narrowly escaping with his life? I doubt it. I ask myself what, if they had known their futures could not be changed and what was to come, would they have chosen to do? The opening scenes of the movie "Love Actually" begin with the words, " When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love". And so I remind myself to say, " I love you". "Just do it". What if there is no tomorrow for me? What if I neglected to let my family and friends know how I feel?

So also can the onset of serious health issues abruptly and mercilessly alter our lives. In 2008, I experienced a reckless fall, smashing my hip and leg. In a heart beat my summer of jumping onto docks to tie up our sailboat degenerated into one of continually circling our Thornhill crescent, first with a walker and then with my cane, in an effort to exercise my way back to a normal life. My friend, Marion, has just watched her plans for a summer of sailing and golf disappear into thin air after suffering a freak accident in the Toronto subway that fractured her shoulder in multiple places. A grandchildren's birthday party, a subway station turnstile - so inocuous and yet the site of freak accidents. Who knows what life will bring and where? I walked properly again and Marion will regain full use of her arm, but what of our dear friends whose lives have been shattered with a cancer diagnosis? The long battle, endless worry and dangerous drug cocktails ultimately take their toll, no matter what the outcome. The diagnosis came out of left field for one of my dear friends; she confided that when she got the news, she was feeling healthy and at the top of her game. When we least expect it! This past weekend a treasured family member was struck down with a pneumonia so virulent that it initially presented to both EMS workers and hospital staff as a stroke. Immediate medical attention and a blast of potent antibiotic drugs has allowed him to begin his journey to recovery.
Time. Perhaps it is because I am moving into my late sixties that I have an increased awareness of the relentless movement of my clock's hands. So many places to visit! So many experiences to anticipate! So many plans! So many dreams! Jim's parents passed away at an early age never fulfilling their dreams of travel. Plans and dreams dashed by cancer and early onset Alzheimer's. Who could have predicted it? Tim McGraw poignantly sings in his song, "Live Like You Were Dying" the words, " Some day I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying". Do not delay your plans. Take that class. Journey to that country. Party with dear friends. "Just do it". What if there is no tomorrow for those plans and dreams?

This past Sunday found me at a baby shower, chatting with a guest, a young bride, of whom I am extremely fond. Recently returned from her honeymoon in the South Pacific, she spoke of an arranged side trip to swim with sharks. Eyes wide, I immediately interjected, "Weren't you terrified?" I cannot quote Amanda exactly, but the essence of her wisdom-filled response is that she has made a conscious decision not to allow "fear" in her life or vocabulary. She views it as a prohibiting emotion that would prevent her from living life to its fullest. So young and so wise. What an extraordinary life she has ahead of her. No fears. She will "just do it", "just live it". And so I was reminded to try that experience, to move out of my comfort zone, to go for that adventure. Be exhilarated. Have no regrets. "Just Do It".

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