Today is day six of my latest effort to lead a better life. It is going pretty well.
Inertia is a powerful force in our lives. We go to work, we eat at the same places, we see the same people and we do the same things. Often that doesn’t involve helping others. And few of us would adamantly argue that we live every day to its fullest.
It takes inspiration to live a different life — a better life.
If you believe in supposed ancient Mayan prophesies that the world will end on Dec. 12, 2012, then you likely are way ahead of me. You might have spent the past weeks, months or years refocusing yourself to live a good life, a full life and a life without regrets.
But I am only on day six. I am focusing on being more positive, more considerate of others and thinking about how I can do small things that make life better for others. And I’m trying to be a better Christian.
My latest inspiration came this past Sunday morning while returning home from my favorite coffee shop. A radio program featured the Phoenix nurse that ran across America. You may have heard of Helen Neville. She has been in the press a lot.
The interviewer said Neville ran the equivalent of 93 marathons in 93 days during her run across the country. I later ran one mile that morning, which I felt good about.
But her 93 in 93 isn’t what inspired me.
There have been some 200 people that have run across America. But Neville set a record for the fastest trip. And she did it on the southern route in the summer. Most others avoided summer heat on their runs.
That is cool, but that isn’t what inspired me.
During the interview, it was pointed out that she wrote a book, “One on the Run,” on the importance of nurses being healthy as inspiration to the patients they work with. She did it while working a full-time job and tending to a family. She ran across the country to promote the book.
While impressive, that is not what inspired me.
The inspiration came when she told the interviewer she was diagnosed with cancer in 1993. It required three brain surgeries. After several years of treatment, she said her doctor told her in 1998 to get her affairs in order. The end was near. Such a message, I’m sure, is more effective at evaluating how one will live the rest of life than a Mayan prophesy.
She said she decided to run a marathon. She did it with little training. She survived it and has kept running. And she has kept living with the notion that it could all end at any time with little notice. Her website tells of the many things she does to help others. I could hear in her voice that she has since lived more passionately, with more intent and with more purpose.
While not wanting to hear such a message from a doctor, I was envious Sunday morning as I listened to her talk about her story and how it changed her life for the better. She had been to the precipice of life and has been running all-out on the edge of it for a long time. I didn’t get the feeling that she wasted a lot of evenings watching “How I Met Your Mother” or “Seinfeld” reruns or some of the other drivel coming out of our televisions (I admit I do waste time on “How I Met Your Mother”).
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve consciously set a goal to live life more fully, to be more positive and to be more generous to my fellow man. Most of us likely get that inspiration from time to time. And then life’s clutter gets in the way and we fall into some of the old habits. And it goes on until the next bit of inspiration.
Maybe we should consider this idea: We are all running along the precipice. There is no promise that tomorrow will come. There is an expiration date for each of us. We just don’t know when that will be.
Life is precious. It is a gift that we don’t want to fumble away. We need these inspirations to do a little more, a little better and with a little more passion. And maybe some others around us are better for it. And we will live on in the memory and hearts of others. And we can leave the space around us a little better for our being here.
Tomorrow is day 7. That is assuming it comes for me.
Terry Horne is publisher and editor of the East Valley Tribune and general manager of 1013 Communications Arizona, which also includes the Daily News-Sun in Sun City, the Ahwatukee Foothills News, Arizona Interactive Media, The Explorer in Tucson, Glendale-Peoria Today and Surprise Today.