Sign Up For Life

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“It’s hard to get people to sign up for life.”

Have you ever accidentally overheard a portion of someone’s conversation, and gone on to think about it?  This happened to me a few years ago when I was helping out at a local Unitarian church cleaning up and setting up between the regular service and a Hindu service which was to follow in the same space.

I was picking up hymnals from chairs and thinking that if I was done in time, I might stay to see what a Hindu service was all about.  As I worked, I walked by a group that was meeting on the choir risers.

“It’s hard to get people to sign up for life,” said a member of the group as I passed.

“Yes,” I thought, as I continued my work.  “It is hard to get people to sign up for life.”

I thought of people I knew who stayed in jobs they didn’t like and with friends they couldn’t stand.  What is it that keeps us doing the mundane?  Is it simply fear of change?  We are, every minute, making a choice either to do what we have already done, or to do something new.  So often we choose to exist instead of to live.

I thought of my own life, and how long I stayed with a job I hated before I decided to leave.  Why had it taken me so long to sign up for life?  Even now, away from that job, I spent most of the time thinking about how happy I will be one day when I have the career I want.  Why am I waiting until then to be happy, when I can simply be happy now?

It seems we are all waiting for life to happen to us some time down the line.  “When I get the promotion…” “When I lose the weight…” “When I get married…” “When I have my degree…”

Often the dream is so important that we are afraid to even take steps in that direction.  Is it living itself that we fear?  Or do we simply feel we are not worthy of life until we have earned it?  If there were a simple sign up sheet, who would put their name down to live?  Somehow this woman had seen it, and summed it up in one sentence.  Why is it so hard to get people to sign up for life?

And with an arm full of song books, my work almost done, I turned again and was back by the same choir risers.  I leaned in, hoping to get another ear-full of wisdom.  The same woman was speaking.

“Well, maybe we should just concentrate on the one year memberships instead,” she said.

Slightly modified from an original version published in Invited to Sound by Laura Lee

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