How Unexpected Reminders Can Change Your Life

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Who would have thought that one of the more poignant things I’ve heard in a long time, would be in a Petco commercial?


It had been a while since I had an evening to just sit and watch television. I was relaxing comfortably in my living room, feet up on my ottoman, a blanket caressing me gently. I decided to watch Grey’s Anatomy for the first time in years, and found myself crying buckets when quite unexpectedly, Dr. Derek McDreamy, died. What? Derek couldn’t die! I kept waiting for his eyes to open, because the star never dies, he makes a miraculous recovery. But there was Meredith, his wife, pulling the plug and watching the love of her life audibly exhale his last breath. End of episode.

That’s when the Petco commercial came on…

“How long does it take to grow old? And why does it seem like no one wants to do it? Isn’t growing old the same thing as living longer?”

More tears flowed. Grabbing the remote I changed the channel in hopes of finding something that might lessen the chance of more precipitation, and I came across the movie Parental Guidance. There stood Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, a couple who had ‘lived longer,’ looking lovingly at each other, singing and dancing in the kitchen; and I cried some more. I guess you could say it was the perfect storm.

As my tears continued to flow, so many thoughts cycled through my mind faster than the wheels in the most advanced spin class… thoughts about love, life, the pursuit of purpose and of course, happiness. All of this profound introspection from watching TV? Who knew!

For ten weeks prior to this evening, I had been spinning in a kind of bliss I once thought I might never experience again. Some Fairy Godmother in the Universe waived her magic wand aligning the stars for me to do what I love, and what I had sorely missed for too many years. I was back on stage in a leading role, feeling alive… noticeably more full of life than I had been in a long time. The yin to that yang was the frustration as the end of the run neared, that when the clock struck twelve it would be time to return to life before the Ball, unsure as to when, or if, there would ever be another such opportunity.

Years before, I had taken an acting workshop with a TV casting director. It went remarkably well… so well that the he promised to hire me for a role, (which he ultimately did). Returning home that night after the workshop I cried to my brother who was visiting, making him promise to not let me forget how good I was feeling and to not let me lose faith in the possibilities. I never really forgot how I felt, but my passion had admittedly downshifted to dormant due to life’s changing circumstances; namely my divorce.

Reality bites sometimes, yes. It can derail our dreams and aspirations, but whatever it is that drives us will not and cannot be ignored. We cannot lose faith that it is possible to get back on track with love and with life. It may be different than how we originally imagined, but ultimately, we need to live life in a way that fills our souls.

I think sometimes many of us use our ‘busyness’ as a way to avoid the void.

Try as we may to squelch our desires (usually driven by fear or uncertainty), it has been my experience that life has a way of reminding us of what we want, what we cherish and what we are missing. When something or someone makes us feel alive, makes us cry, makes us laugh or elicits any strong emotional reaction, there’s a reason, and it’s important to pay attention.

Unexpected reminders can change our life, and the Universe will hit us over the head if we’re not listening. My role in the play and its message was the kick in the butt I needed to knock me to my senses: Taking chances in life and love when we’re older is scary, but if we don’t, we will always be waiting to live and ultimately have many regrets.

Synchronicity is astounding.

The commercial asks, “Isn’t growing old the same thing as living longer?” This is something to ponder, indeed. I do know that growing old doesn’t mean we stop taking chances in life, and that playing it safe, can sometimes be more hazardous to our well-being. I do know that living longer is a gift, and even with the day-to-day demands of reality, we need to make time for whomever and whatever makes us feel most alive. Love, passion, laughter, joy, fulfillment… it’s all possible, if we are open to it. It’s never too late. Perhaps this was your unexpected reminder?

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