Burning the candle at both ends

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It begins innocently. We take on more and more with each passing day and begin burning that candle at both ends, always with the thought in mind that never the twain shall meet. But they do meet, and someone always gets burned.

burn the candle

In today’s economy and struggling markets people take on more burdens to cement themselves to their jobs. Fiscal responsibility tends to equate to physical and emotional exhaustion but we do what we have to do to secure our stability. It has become a dog-eat-dog existence.

Although we may see that candle as everlasting and continuous, we lose a little piece of our sanity with each drip of wax that is dispelled. A layer of our resolve, like the dripping wax, is melted away from us and collectively pooled into a well of fatigue. The moments of freedom we so carelessly took for granted are a thing of the past and the work day increases in its longevity.  As the winds of our reality fan the flames, the candle burns faster at both ends leaving us with more of a sense of panic and less candle to burn. The days seem longer, the nights seem shorter and we strive to hold fastidiously to our workaday reality.

It is our individual responsibility to snuff that secondary flame – to only allow ourselves one wick with which to burn our energy. If we allow others to dictate how much of the candle we burn at one time we may as well cast ourselves into the inferno and spontaneously combust.

The purpose of a candle is to burn for long periods of time, from one end only, and cast a glow of light that is warm and comforting. Burning that candle from both ends decreases the amount of enjoyment that candle is meant to purvey and exponentially diminishes the enjoyment that is elicited from that one single flame.

Strike your match carefully.  Predestine how much of that candle you are willing to ignite and at which pace you choose it to soften and dissipate.  If you light it sparingly, it will last much longer and the enjoyment of that flame will last that much longer.

Starry, starry night

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I am spoiled.  I live in the most beautiful part of Ontario that offers an abundance of stunning scenery, unending lakes and breathtaking landscapes.  There are moments that I’m sure I take it for granted, but most of the time I remind myself how fortunate I am to be living in such a paradise.

starry night

And with all of the beauty that presents itself during the daylight hours, the sun pulls up the blanket of the horizon and the night-time emerges to share its splendor. The nocturnal winter creatures echo their cries into the vast blackness and the stars tentatively begin to dot the evening sky in their familiar patterns.

The spectral portrait of twinkling lights is awe-inspiring, and, if the skies are clear, it is something we are lucky enough to see every night. I forget that city dwellers are not as blessed because their sight lines are lost in a jungle of concrete, street lamps and high rises.

Looking back a few years, I was fortunate enough to be in Toronto in August of 2003 when the lights went off across the Eastern Seaboard.  Yes, I said fortunate, and I was in many ways.  I was staying with friends at Yonge and Sheppard and was meeting more friends for dinner at Yonge and Eglinton.  I was supposed to take the subway, but was short on time and took a cab instead.  It escaped my attention through the first few intersections that the street lights were extinguished, and as we sailed through block after block, we began to assimilate to the slowing of traffic and the lack of store lights.  The city was getting dark. Had I been taking the subway, I would have been trapped in a blackened metal tomb, as opposed to looking in wonder at a bustling city slowing to a crawl in almost complete darkness.

The dinner was fun and certainly memorable but the most remarkable part of the night was the masses of people on the sidewalks staring up at the night sky after the sun had set.  The stars that I see on a regular basis were seen by so many eyes for what seemed like the first time.  They stood in complete reverence and the sound of silence descended on a city known for its bedlam and pandemonium.  The constellations brought peace to a city of calamity.

Strangers on the street that may have passed each other numerous times without a second glance were now sharing a small piece of the sidewalk, but not only that, they were sharing a small piece of heaven.  Those stars, no matter which province, which country or which hemisphere we are in, connect us.

That Eastern Seaboard blackout was a moment of serendipity – a fortunate accident that allowed many to gaze upon the panorama of stars that would otherwise be oblivious to them. It seemed to bring a sense of peace and fellowship to a city so bent on individuality and alienation.  I didn’t know that in that moment, under the same starry sky that I sometimes take for granted, that I could appreciate my life that much more. Since that fortuitous experience, I make it a point to look at those stars as often as I can.

When I arrived home from curling tonight, that same night sky with the patterned constellations was there to greet me.  I always take a moment to stand in the darkness, regardless of the plunging temperature, and wish with childlike excitement that I will see a shooting star.  I never have to make a wish, because I live where my wish has already come true.

Carpe noctem – seize the night, seize all of the wonder it has to offer and make sure to wish on that falling star.  What would your wish be?

As an addendum to this post, I let my dog out for one last time and saw a shooting star – an yes, the child in me took over and I made a wish.  I hope it comes true.  :)

Every moment is important

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I was reading the new posts on Freshly Pressed and came across this post from grieftastic about Watching a Friend Die on Facebook.  It was heart wrenching and, in reading all of the moments so poignantly described, it really made me realize that every moment is important.  Every smile, every laugh and every argument combine to define a relationship.   And if we take any of those moments for granted, we are missing the true meaning of that relationship.

I posted yesterday about my best friend who was tragically taken from us far too soon.  She didn’t have a debilitating disease, we didn’t get to mentally prepare for her passing – she was just gone in an instant, and we didn’t get to say goodbye.  But every moment I had with her was precious, every moment is now a treasured memory and every moment was time I will never get back.

I was in the hospital when my dad took his last breath, but that is not the moment I remember.  The moments I cherish, much to my surprise, were the 6:00 am wake up calls on Christmas day.  For the years he was alive, I dreaded the thought of the phone ringing at that ungodly hour, but now, those are the moments with him that I miss the most.

Life is unpredictable and life is callous.  Often the things that we think will last forever can be taken in a second and the things we think should be easy are the biggest challenges.  I have a sadness for people who will never admit to making mistakes.  It is through my mistakes that I have learned more about myself and realized how truly important those moments were.  They helped to shape the person I have become and they will forever be a reminder of the person I could have been and not the person I am now.  They were important moments that gave me time to choose which person I wanted to be.

Every moment in our lives gives us a choice, but that moment will never again present itself in the same way.  It is a singular time in our lives – no two moments will be exactly the same.  You may watch the sun rise every morning for a week, but there will something unique in each moment of each day that will define that sunrise.

Sunrise

Every moment is important.  Knowing that, and truly embracing that, will help us take the time to ingest those precious seconds.  The things that you say cannot be taken back.  The things that you do will leave lasting memories.  And the things you experience will be a part of your history.  Choose wisely in your actions, for they will be the things that people will remember when you’re gone.

Audience of one – I wish it were you

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