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Springville Journal editorial: Just another day?

SPRINGVILLE — “If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that, seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

My minimal knowledge about the late basketball Coach Jim Valvano was gleaned from NBC’s “Go On.” During last week’s episode, viewers were challenged to contemplate how they would spend the last day of their lives and they were motivated by Valvano’s encouragement to laugh, think and cry, every day.

Let me just say that I do not believe that the world will end on Dec. 21. As intelligent as I am sure they were, the Mayan people were not graced with a supernatural knowledge of the future. They simply did not care what day of the week Dec. 22, 2012 would fall on, since they would all be long gone, anyway. And, who can blame them? They had done enough advance work for us, as it was.

But, the recent flurry of end-of-the-world conversation has forced many people to consider how they would spend their hypothetical last days on earth.

If you had presented me with this scenario, a few years ago, I would have told you that I would spend my last week experiencing everything I had only dreamed about: sky diving, exploring Paris, hiking the Grand Canyon, strolling Rodeo Drive, swimming with dolphins and enjoying “Wicked” on Broadway. I would sample Italy’s tastiest pizzas and test the world’s craziest roller coasters.

Now, though, I believe that, at the end of the day, when I closed my eyes for the last time, the experiences I had whirled through would turn out to be empty and trivial. Valvano’s laughing, thinking and crying do not have to be done at the top of the Eiffel Tower – a place I do intend to visit, at some point, although definitely after Dec. 21 – or at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Rather, at the end of the day, when I prepared to say goodbye to my world, I believe that I would be most proud of the people I spent my last moments with and the mark I had left on them. Instead of forsaking my loved ones to tour the world, which wouldn’t be around for much longer, anyway, I would want to be making memories with people I already chose to be with, even when the end of the earth was not imminent.

I would choose to laugh with them over silly inside jokes and happy memories. I would choose to think with them about those who went before us and about the things we had learned, during our short time on the earth. And I would choose to cry with them over the experiences we would never again have together.

I hope that I would also strive to improve other individuals’ last weeks on earth. I hope that I would close my eyes without any regrets. I hope that I would end my life hearing, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

But, should we really wait until we know that our lives are coming to an end, to live that way? Why wouldn’t I treat every day as though it could be my last? None of us knows when we will say goodbye to this world.

So, spend your days laughing, thinking and crying. Hug your mother, your father and your children. Make memories. Do what is right. Give to those who cannot give in return. Live without regret. Because, whether or not 2013 shows its face, none of us will live forever.

I believe that Dec. 21, 2012 will be just another day. And, at the same time, it will be more than that. It will be another gift. Another chance to start over and another 24 hours to spend truly living. It really will be the first day of the rest of our lives.
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