By Sharon Chayra
Las Vegas Informer
In the frenzy of wrapping up 2012 tasks, I rapidly scrolled through each of the 73 emails I’d received since signing off 12 hours earlier. Many of them were invitations so they were the first to be tackled. Cocktail reception? Yes. Media Night? Yes. Dinner? Absolutely! Christmas party? Yes. End of world. Huh?!
Seems in all the hustle of the holidays I had completely overlooked the end of the world as foretold by the Mayans. My bad.
Like many people, dare I say the entire population of this planet, I am concerned about the end of the world. When will it happen? How will it happen? Does this mean the end starts at the international dateline and moves west? How do I explain this to the kids? Not to make light of the soberness of this occasion but these thoughts naturally cross your mind (or consume them) when you are scheduled to meet the Grim Reaper at a specific time and date.
Personally, I do not believe the world will end on December 12, but that doesn’t mean I’ve discounted any talk about “what if?” Catastrophes abound as evidenced recently by Hurricane Sandy and the Typhoon in the Philippines. Scientists are well aware and keep us apprised of the overdue nature of Yellowstone’s gurgling volcano and the increasing tensions building in California’s San Andreas fault. Notwithstanding the delicate political policies in place that ensure trigger-happy zealots lay off the nuke button, we are surrounded with global annihilation threats yet we still find time to agonize over our flabby thighs and receding hairlines.
I find that the end-of-the-world is really just the beginning of an opportunity. For all the hype of apocalyptic movies and end-days resort packages (I’m not kidding), our most meaningful opportunity is to stop and listen. After we do that, we’ll naturally focus on people because, after all, what else matters more than those we love and care for, and that includes Fido & Fifi. What should happen next will seem quite natural but it will be immediate: Do today what you had planned tomorrow, next week or next year. Right now. This moment.
Just like my delicious South African friend did recently when he asked me to dinner. That might not seem such a big deal but given we hadn’t chatted in nearly two years, the fact he even remembered my private number was impressive enough. He then asked if I’d go to dinner with him that night. 7 p.m. to be exact. A bit confused, I asked where he was and he replied at his home in Salt Lake City. Sensing my hesitation he insisted that he planned to drive down and he’d made the arrangements and all I had to do was agree to go with him.
By 6:30 he was at my doorstep with a half-dozen of my favorite British Turkish Delight chocolates in-hand. Gobsmacked I had to compose myself enough to ask him what on earth possessed him to do something so out of character. He simply replied “Carpe Diem!” Seize the day.
What he did not only resulted in a wonderful evening but more importantly me being starkly reminded of the greater lesson. If my friend could drive six hours to Vegas for eggplant parmesan and one little smooch, why did I find it so hard to find the time to send an email to my sister to ask about her health or put a spray of flowers on the grave of my girlfriend’s mother? These gestures, big or small, all mean something and that in turn means they are of value, especially to the people whose lives you’re touching.
Life is measured in fractions of time and as we all know we can’t get it back. We may have obligations to others but we also have an obligation to our Creator and ourselves. To use our lives with purpose but to also live that life in a way that sustains us and fills us with joy. Day-to-day monotony isn’t a noble deed but appreciating every breath you take is a good way to start discovering what you do matters, to yourself and to others.
Small joys from a hawk circling above to a baby’s giggle can result in good feelings. Strung together these feelings can become actions. Actions like going online to that website that sells refurbished racing bikes and buying one. If you can’t afford it, forego Starbucks for a month; you’ll get the bike and probably pay for the entry fees to that race you’ve always wanted to take. Recently there was a photo of a NY police officer who had bought and delivered a pair of warm boots to a homeless man on the streets. The picture was poignant and sent a clear message that this gentlemen who had been discarded by society still deserved compassion. The officer obviously had to go and buy the boots after figuring how big the chap’s feet were and then schlepping them to the man who may or may not have been in the area. This took effort but it mostly took a heart. A heart that understood the importance of providing something most of us take for granted as we step into our closets every day. It’s not about money, it’s about taking the time to listen and see where an opportunity exists to improve the world of a person. The policeman as well as the homeless man both benefited from this act of love.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the days, we forget to actually realize that we’re alive. Finding the time is what brings meaning to those hands sweeping by all too quickly. While my friend told me he struggled a bit making up his mind to visit me, he knew taking a moment to listen to his heart in solitude for just 15 minutes told him what he needed to do. Within the hour he set out for Vegas. If you take just a few minutes to sit in stillness, even if trash trucks and sirens abound, chances are you will still hear your heart speaking loudly about an opportunity to create a pleasant memory.
I suppose writing this week’s article may have been a waste. Maybe you won’t be around to read it? But if you are, I hope it spurs you to action and that you Carpe Diem. As for me, well, I’ve got a dinner date with a special suitor in Salt Lake.
Sharon Chayra is an award-winning writer and president of a medical marketing firm based in Las Vegas. A traveler of life, Chayra integrates her science background with spirituality resulting in common sense observations to others on their life’s journey. Given her heritage of Apache and Scottish, she is a born storyteller and documents experiences about personal growth, culture, laughter and health into the written and visual word.