As I drove my rental car through the miles and miles of barren black lava fields just north of the Kailua-Kona airport on Hawaii's Big Island, I was reminded of all the volcanic rock I picked out of our family farm fields as a child and teenager in Idaho. I didn't spent much time pondering the joys of rock picking, however, because I was so amused reading all the "grafitti" along the side of the road. Hundreds of homemade messages, constructed of pieces of white coral carefully formed into letters against the black volcanic rock background, are visible for your reading enjoyment.
One message said "Love John. Trust Dave. What to do?" Others represented the writer's favorite sports teams, or were the names of couples in love, or had messages like "Aloha!" Some were pictures, like hearts, smiley faces, peace symbols, and even a drawing of a humpback whale (which you can spot in real life just off the shoreline from January to April).
I was so enchanted by the coral messages I wanted to stop to take a picture, and so I pulled off the road at the next available turn out, and saw this message:
Live Life. I loved it.
The message resonated with me on so many levels, and is just vague enough to mean what you want it to, depending upon your perspective. As I drove along, I pondered what "Live Life" means to me.
I was reminded of the fascinating book I had been reading on the flight to Hawaii: Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, which I recommend. I had just finished a section about our tendency to go into "auto-pilot" mode at times, not really paying attention to our life. We are happiest, according to the book, when we actually intently focus on something, when we actually live in the moment instead of daydreaming of the future or rehashing the past. That's one of the reasons I like travel and weightlifting...both are challenging enough that they force me to focus on what I'm doing in the moment...they both pull me into the present moment in a forceful way. Being present. Paying attention. Living life.
The "Live life" message also reminded me that we can each choose to accept responsibility for our lives, and make our lives the best that we possibly can. Or, we can choose not to, blaming others for our unhappiness or drifting along, just reacting to whatever happens. But perhaps to "live life" is to actively, consciously choose one's path.
Finally, to "live life" is to seize the day, to recognize that opportunities are perishable, and so we must act when an opportunity presents itself to us, rather than postponing or procrastinating, waiting for a more convenient time to live. The past six months, as I've watched a beloved coworker valiantly battle cancer, this message has distilled upon my soul. I've prayed earnestly and intently for his recovery, but also acknowledged that we all eventually die. Life itself is perishable. So we must live while we have the chance.
This last message was reinforced to me, when the next time I drove by this spot, I pulled off the road, hoping to capture another photo under different light conditions, and found that the "Live Life" message was gone, replaced with the names of a couple in love. I happened to drive by the spot several times, and each time noticed a different message there. My opportunity to get another photo of the message was gone.
Yup. Opportunities are perishable. We've got to seize the moments when they come to us. Live life, my friends.