Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash
By Marilyn Pellini
Living life as if there is no tomorrow sounds reckless, dangerous, exotic, but it also has a ring of joyfulness attached to it, if we can just bring ourselves to open up to just plain abandon. Most of us are often too reserved to do anything where even a hint of danger is involved. Others want nothing more than to come as close as possible to a tiger in the wild. Do you fall into one of these categories?
I have always been an ultra-conservative person. Perhaps not so much in my politics necessarily, but just in my approach to risk, and doing the right thing. I was not the product of a religious school education, or even of an overly religious family, but I have always just chosen the straight and narrow on my own. While my classmates way back when were writing cheat notes on their saddle shoes, I was collecting friend’s autographs. Even though I was a student who could have truly benefited from a few cheat notes, I just could not participate in cheating. The expression “honest to a fault” still defines me. So, don’t ask if I like your new dress or current hairstyle as I will always tell you the truth—hopefully couched with a little diplomacy!
Live life to the fullest. Eat dessert first, or maybe even make it your whole dinner just once in a while. This indulgence will certainly not kill you. The sweet things in life need to be savored and put first, and not wait until we can totally afford a special luxury or a unique experience. Of course we do not want to incur credit card debt that threatens our daily existence, but we should be able to dip into our savings when we have an opportunity to see Australia with a friend. If you wait for retirement age to travel, your health may not permit it. Age makes us more vulnerable to rich foods, sea sickness, lumpy beds, late hours, etc. Youth has us completely overlooking greasy foods or a musty-smelling hotel room. When I made my first trip to Europe in my fifties, I could not sleep a wink on the plane. I think I was just too excited by the thought that I would actually see Paris for the first time. By the time we finally arrived, all I wanted to do was check into the hotel and get some rest, which meant almost a whole day less of sightseeing. The same philosophy applies to small but costly items. That Louis Vuitton handbag may set you back a whole pay-check, but the confidence and presence it gives you may well make it worth the price.
You have just begun reading that hot new novel at 10 PM and are totally engrossed. The next time you look at the clock it reads 4 AM. When you can no longer keep your eyes open to read another word, you simply turn back the covers, snap off the light, and crawl under the covers fully clothed. No one will know of your all-nighter or chastise you, but you very well may need a bit more concealer under your eyes to cover those dark circles when leaving for the office in the morning. Still all worth it though, as it is not often one finds a book so engrossing that you want to devour it in one sitting.
Have you ever skipped work for no reason at all? Surely we could rationalize a scratchy throat or rumblings in our tummy to account for our behavior and assuage our conscience, but really we could have gone to work with no fear of passing whatever we felt on to anyone else. The day just seemed so raw and gloomy. It’s Friday after all, and a long weekend captures our imagination, so we call in sick and spend the whole day in our PJs relaxing. There really wasn’t that much work that had to be done anyway, and we can always get an early start on Monday morning to clear up whatever has accumulated. You feel guilty only until the work day would have ended, and then you venture out for the evening with a friend. Live it up you think, and hopefully you won’t run into anyone from work. Even if you do, you can always claim you felt much better toward the end of the day.
There are truly adventurous ways to live as if there is no tomorrow. Try zip-lining, scuba diving, wakeboarding, rock or mountain climbing, etc. With advancing age some of these feats will be too rigorous or dangerous. Every day we should attempt at least one new experience, I believe. That should be our mantra before old age has crept up on us. You know that cute guy who lives in your building? Bet he could get that light bulb out that’s stuck in the kitchen socket. Having something sumptuous simmering on the stove could prompt an innocent invitation to stay for dinner. Go for it. Take the plunge. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You know all the time-honored clichés, but there is much truth in most of them.
It is never alright to blatantly lie, but little fibs are often acceptable and even kind. Your mom’s friend has just finished her chemo, and you gush about how wonderful she looks, even though it is quite far from the truth. Your life-long friend is demanding more and more of your spare time since she retired. You certainly are allowed to feign illness or late work arrangements so you can occasionally make plans with other people. It’s fine to step back a bit and give yourself some space. No one should set out to deliberately hurt someone’s feelings with total disregard, but it is very important to keep our own balance too.
Be bold and daring. Walk around in your undies or even in the nude. Draw the blinds and feel free, even go skinny-dipping in your pool (especially fun in the dark of night!). Both are freeing experiences and not harmful to anyone else.
Don’t hesitate to go up to that person on the beach who is smoking and request they take a walk to an area where no one is sitting. We all know the dangers of second-hand smoke. Personally I am a two-time cancer survivor, and try hard not to expose myself to known carcinogens. My friend had a real problem with her neighbor’s dog. That couple did walk their dog and even carried a plastic bag, but the dog constantly used my friend’s front yard as his preferred spot. Her grass was full of big, bright yellow stains and often had an odor. She nicely asked that they keep their dog off her lawn. The couple has not spoken to her since, but her lawn is a lush green once again.
Adventures are life’s highs, so take advantage every time something exceptional comes along. We can sit around and worry about money and the future while life just passes us by. Stay healthy, and involve your family and friends in some of your more interesting and unique adventures. That will add a new dimension to the experience, and they are sure to love your spontaneity and depth of character. Sometimes it is important to live life with reckless abandon.
Marilyn Pellini has recently published a grief book entitled Dear Al, A Widow’s Struggles and Remembrances. It has been selling quite well. Her other credits as a writer include a recent article in Brick Magazine entitled “Memories in My Button Jar,” pieces in Westchester Parent Magazine, Bay State Parent Magazine, On The Water, Balanced Rock, and others which she would be happy to provide copies of upon request. In May of 2018, she took the first place prize in the N.Y. State Federation of Women’s Clubs writing contest.