Living Intentionally

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I just had a quick conversation with a friend who said, “My goal for 2012 is to live life more intentionally.”

For all of you who wonder if I have a filter, I’m about to prove to you that I do…

…because I want to make fun of that so badly but I can’t. I’ve seen what a life lived inattentively looks like.

It’s not good.

Years ago, I volunteered with a woman named June who was a retired teacher. She hoarded cats. We asked her to volunteer so we could keep an eye on her.

June was paranoid and thought we were out to euthanize her ‘family’. Because someone had the decency to work with this older woman instead of reporting her to animal services, the story ends relatively well. Our volunteers were patient. The cats were fed, spayed, and neutered. We were able to pull cats from her house and move them into new foster homes. And June was invited to volunteer events and her life broadened a little bit.

How did June get to the point in her life where she was hoarding cats? Well, it’s not a great story.

June was married but never had kids. Her husband had children from a previous marriage but they didn’t like her. And she never let it go. She was pushing 70 and told me, “The biggest regret of my life was not demanding that we have children.”

Wow. That’s a pretty big regret.

And June worked hard but didn’t make much money. There were pressures on her pension (state government messes and contracts) and her health was declining, too. Type 2 diabetes. She struggled to keep her weight down. Her blood sugar levels were out of control. She didn’t exercise because she was always sore and she was always sore because she didn’t exercise. She would come to volunteer events and say things like, “I’d like to have that cake but my sugars are a mess. Might put me in the hospital.”

Then she’d have the cake.

Christ.

So it seems pretty clear that life happened to June. Compromises turned into grudges. Choices were made. A few cats turned into a houseful of cats. Then it spilled into her yard. Then her neighbors complained.

That’s when I met her.

I’m sure there was a time when June lived life intentionally. I bet she was a bright and optimistic young woman who had big dreams. Then something happened and she stopped paying attention to her values. She eventually ran out of time to fix it. And the one thing that made her feel better — cats — became a weird substitute for everything else that was missing in her life.

Dang.

So if you want to live life intentionally in 2012, I won’t make fun of you. In fact, I hope we can all take a lesson from June and stop wasting so much time.

And we should let go of our anger in 2012, too. Easier said than done, I know, but it just eats you up inside.

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