When we reach a point in our lives when we know that we are already more than half past our time allotment on this planet, there is a different awareness.
By Linda Commito
I’ve never been accused of being an athlete! It wasn’t until my late 20s that I ran my first race in Boulder, Colorado at 5,318 miles above sea level. I had just moved there from the East Coast and signed up for an exercise class. I hated the running portion of the class, but after several weeks and the purchase of my first pair of running shoes, I actually had some fleeting moments of pleasure—the so-called “runner’s high.” I decided to enter a 10k race, the Bolder Boulder, and ran it with about 9,000 of my closest friends . . . and I mean “closest!” It was encouraging and fun seeing people on the sidelines cheering us on as we crossed the finish line.
I was happy to be able do it and to experience the joy of a shared accomplishment. And it was OK that I never ran another race. For decades, I got my “Rocky Mountain High” hiking Colorado’s beautiful mountain trails. I learned that the goal wasn’t crossing a finish line but doing what I loved, appreciating the journey and those who were sharing it with me.
And I wish I could have realized that during the height of my goal-oriented, workaholic years as a business owner, but I have come to value and appreciate that understanding in my life now. There’s a different awareness once we reach a point in our lives when we know that we are already more than half past our time allotment on this planet, and not only is there no rush to get to the finish line, we don’t usually know when that will be.
In the last six weeks, I have been poignantly aware of how suddenly we can be facing that final time, and the best we can expect is to have lived our lives as fully and lovingly as we could each step of the way. I’d like to share how two dear friends made their lives matter.
Deana Gozder was a shining light. I met her in 2011 when I joined AWG (Awesome Women’s Group of 11) and was honored to be a part of for the next 10 years. Deana lived from a place of grace and gratitude. In 2009 she had received a new set of lungs after hers were ready to give out. She said: “It was the best day of my new life, with the promise of many more ahead.” Dee was usually smiling, always giving, always a joy to be with. As an educator, she went beyond her work to do her best to support individuals and families in need. After a blessed 14 years of extra time, sadly, Deana passed away at 54 years old on July 18, 2023, leaving many loved ones to honor and celebrate her beautiful life.
Sometimes we know that the finish line is closer, but in Lil Peltz Petow’s case, it came as a total shock. Lil lived life full on! At 72, she was an amazing athlete and tennis champion, winning 11 Gold Balls in her age group. Strong, resilient, dedicated, she was always willing to teach, coach or help others, whether it was a few pointers on the court, helping a handicapped friend, or supporting another through a painful divorce. Lil had a big heart and never had a finish line when it came to helping her friends. She recently told my partner Francesco, her dear friend and Monday tennis partner: “We’re going to be 85 and still playing tennis every Monday!”
But life throws curve balls when least expected. Although just a few months before, Lil had competed in Croatia, she suddenly was not feeling well enough to play for a couple of weeks at home. She went to the hospital for tests and was admitted immediately with “acute leukemia.” Days later, she contracted pneumonia and sepsis, weakening her system even further. Lil whispered to Francesco, “I want to go FAST!” And she did just that to the shock of all those who knew her. But not before asking Francesco to bring his guitar to the hospital room where 14 friends and family members had gathered, and having everyone dancing to the music.
Throughout Lil’s life, she inspired people to be their best on and off the tennis court in the game of LIFE. We may think “we have all the time in the world” until we don’t. That awareness is even more poignant as we think about what is most important each day—appreciating who and what we have, being thankful for the loving friends and family, the good health, and the time to do what we love, to be with those we cherish, and to contribute what we can to leave a legacy of love and kindness.
We may never know when our finish line is near, but we can do our best to live our lives fully, lovingly, gratefully, and with no regrets, so that when we reach it, we will be at peace.
Linda Commito, author, speaker, entrepreneur, consultant and teacher, is passionate about her vision to leave this world a kinder, more loving, and interconnected place. Linda’s award-winning book of inspirational stories, Love Is the New Currency, demonstrates how we can each make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others through simple acts of love and kindness. Her latest project, the card game Just Ask 1 2 3, was inspired by a desire to connect people of all different ages, beliefs and lifestyles to share our individuality and find commonality. Linda also created “Kindness Starts with Me,” a program, book and website for children. For more information visit http://www.LoveistheNewCurrency.com or visit the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Justask123game.