My Hometown Column

Published 6:53 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I have a friend who is a personal trainer and very involved with healthy lifestyles and motivating his clients, family and friends to get busy living or get busy dying.

Antonio has an enthusiastic personality and a huge infectious smile but don’t let that fool you, he knows how to help us not-so-in-shape folks get busy with working out. His theme is to get busy living or get busy dying. 

Not only has Antonio proclaimed this message, but the other day I watched Shawshank Redemption once again and Morgan Freeman uses the same phrase near the end of the epic movie. It is a turning point for the character. He has not really had a life and does not know how to live one. For the first time he makes a real choice, to live, and not to exist. Hope is born. 

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Have you made a choice? Are you really living your life to its fullest, appreciating every sunrise and every hug from your child? Are you smelling those roses? And then picking them and giving them to those around you that you love instead of waiting for the grim reaper to visit.

Do you wake up everyday living by making healthy choices, eating right, exercising or have you given up on your long term health and just stuff another doughnut down with a soda.

Are you getting busy dying? Smoking is a get busy dying choice, but before all the non smokers jump on the bandwagon, what amount of fat grams, salt and sugar are you ingesting in your body? 

Diabetes, lung cancer, heart disease are all out there waiting for you to continue dying. You make the choice everyday. 

But what if you found out you were dying, like soon. What then? Would you really get busy living then? 

I have been inspired by Randy Pausch. You probably have no ideal who that is, yet on Good Morning America he has become tremendously popular. He is a 46 year old computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who has recently found out he has terminal cancer. If you need a dose of inspiration, then go to ABC’s GMA website and watch the video of his last lecture.

It is truly a speech of a lifetime. His topic?  How to Live Your Childhood Dreams about his life’s journey and lessons he has learned. He is a father of three young children, a husband and has everything to live for. He has a few months only. He states that, “Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls aren’t there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show us how badly we want things.” 

Don’t we do the things we want? If we want a college education, we get it, a decent job, don’t we go after it by doing the things that it takes? Do we stop when brick walls knock us down? No matter how long it takes, we must keep on pounding the brick.

How many of us have lost our childhood dreams? Never tried to fulfill them? Did you just let them go? Did you try? Did you get busy dying before you were barely out on your own?

In another movie quote from Legend, “The dreams of Youth are the regrets of the maturity.”  

I had childhood hopes. I wanted to write a book, I have. I wanted to fall in love, I have. I wanted to be a mother and have a happy home, I have. I wanted to look like Marlo Thomas, That Girl, I got my hair to flip, but no chance. As I grew older I wanted to look like Michelle Pfieffer….I am waiting until she gets really old….so maybe I will have a chance.  I wanted to see the world; I have seen some, but not enough, so I must work on that one still. I wanted to sing on Broadway, I got to be Maria in Picayune On Stage’s production of Sound of Music, (close enough) I wanted to marry Donny Osmond and I got Conan O’Brien and I am glad for unanswered prayers! 

Can you jumpstart your own dreams, your own life? Can you reach down and say, I am not going to just keep on living each day in some zombie, no point way that is really just a holding pattern until you die?

I still want to see Middle Earth! (New Zealand) I still need to make more goals and dreams. I still need to get busy living. I need to do better with diet and exercise, and drive the speed limit.

There are shoes to be bought, for you men, deer to be shot, and fish to be caught……there are skydiving trips to be made, places to be seen and experienced, and there are loved ones around who need love.

Don’t spend everyday dying….spend it feeling, smelling, and laughing. Snap out of it! 

So, People of Picayune, put down your cancer sticks, your pancreatic cancer doughnuts, turn off your brain melting televisions, and get busy with your dreams! Don’t accept anything less! Don’t accept dying as a daily part of your life. 

In Shawshank, the main character, Andy Dufresne comes to be admired by the other inmates for his upstanding moral code and unquenchable sense of hope. I would like folks to think that about me. Could they say that about you….the moral code or the sense of hope?

Red said it best as played by Morgan Freeman, a Mississippi native, with a great narrative voice he states, “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’. That’s Dang right!”

Get to it Pearl River County….I wanna see some happier folks in this town, filled with hope and dreams, living life to its fullest.