Enjoy Every Sandwich
Do you ever find yourself getting tense and muddy-headed by the everyday trials of life?
Maybe work is overloading, and you’re trying to meet that deadline by noon. Zoomathons followed by the never-ending roadworks of face-to-face meetings. At the same time, trying to ready yourself for the tough conversations you haven’t yet had, but you know not having them is a problem itself. It starts to become a pattern of everydaydom, and you know you must, must, must break the cycle.
At home, you are working out how to answer a homework question beyond your educational time gap. Detangling knots in your child’s awkward-age adolescent friendships. Trying to balance the time between keeping them on track whilst caring for the velocity of fading health of your folks.
Life is busy. Our minds are consumed by a combination of stuff and situation. So how can we value more moments amongst the weeds of life? The answer may lie in life itself.
Allow me to expand.
Warren Zevon might not be a name that jumps to mind for many as a spiritual guru for valuing our time in this life. A man who was as famous in his lifetime for being in such a drunken stupor as he had no recall of smashing up hotel rooms and throwing untamed fists as he was for his clever lyrical talent and respected musical legacy. But I invite your curiosity to visit his legacy to really appreciate that whilst life changes are inventible, noticing what’s important is a critical path to clarity and appreciation.
Zevon said that he had made a tactical error in life by not visiting a Doctor for twenty years, and when an extended period of being short of breath turned out to be terminal lung cancer, only then he said he truly learned to live.
After Warren’s terminal diagnosis, he was asked by his long-term friend David Letterman how he was taking the news; he replied,” I’m working harder. I mean, you put more value on every minute. You do live. I always thought I did that, I always enjoyed myself, but it’s more valuable now. You’re reminded to enjoy every sandwich and every minute playing with the guys and being with the kids.”
I have so much admiration for those like Zevon who, in the face of darkness, discover what it is to be alive and live every moment of their time.
The same can be said of David Bowie, of Freddie Mercury and of Dame Deborah James. I’d like you to pause reading this blog and REALLY appreciate what this beautiful young lady brought to not only her own life but notice the life she gave and continues to give to others in death. Deborah and her Bowel Babe mission at the time of my typing this blog has raised 7.5 million for Cancer Research UK.
I am in awe of the life force each of them brought to their final months, knowing that the end was near and noticing the significance of every moment.
So why does it take life-critical incidents or staring at final days to enable us to wake up? The answer is in our will to live. The people I mentioned above, whether or not they were afraid to die – they want to enjoy life. They wanted to get more out of it. They want to give it one big last squeeze. The threat of death and critical illness reinvigorates our appreciation of life, and that is what we must do every single day.
But we can do this more often if we notice where we find joy and choose it more often. I was in my kitchen making chocolate brownies only last week, about 20 minutes before a call started. As we began to chat, I informed my friend of my impending bake-athon. “What are you like,” he said.
Well, here’s what I’m like. I try to find joy in every moment I can. That means if I have 4 hours this morning. I’ll get my work done, but I’ll listen to Springsteen as I do it. If I’ve got a proposal to write, I’ll do it somewhere I have exposure to nature or at least a view of green space. If I have a course to run, I’ll wear my favourite shirt and shoes. If I have an hour Zoom call, I’ll pop a cake in the oven to share with the family after school and work.
Let’s not worry about getting it right all the time, either. I find perfection in our work is often a route to chaos. When we seek perfection, we fail to be human. Openness to learning is a positive pathway. It doesn’t matter that we can’t constantly juggle everything. If our energy and heart point toward growth, that’s more than enough.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing but rising every time you fail.Emerson
I wish instead that we feel the gentlest of breezes on our faces today when you walk the dog. I insist you slowly sip on that warm cup of coffee your partner just brought you, maybe even choose your fave biscuit to dunk. Appreciate the rapid juggling of being a taxi service for the kids; invite them to select the tunes in the ride for you. I bet you can even take some joy from washing the sticky, stained pots after dinner with your partner, knowing that it’s with them. It’s all life. It is all sandwiches for us to enjoy.
I insist you make one now and dance around the kitchen to Zevon’s big hit ‘Werewolves Of London’ whilst munching on the bagel of your choice. I’ll have a cheese and pickle since you’re asking, do let me know what you went for.