Planning and Chance

The Bay Bridge. Photo by Michael Macor
The recent Bay Bridge closure is a reminder that life is short and fragile. Photo by Michael Macor

The moment I heard about the Bay Bridge near-catastrophe….I thought oh, my God, that could have been me, my husband, or any one of the many people I know and love who cross the Bridge regularly. As it turned out, I did know one of the people who was on the bridge that day.  Lucky for her – she walked away with 4 flat tires, a totaled car, and frazzled nerves – but she was alive.  We all admit that “life is short” but when we say this we are thinking of our normal life span and yes, it goes by too quickly. But life is also fragile and we have no control over so many things – including whether we’re driving on the Bay Bridge at the moment it collapses.

What we do have control over, is how we choose to live day by day, and also how we prepare for the inevitable day of our passing. There’s a reason why so many positive-thinking, self-help, spiritual guides suggest writing your own eulogy as a way to get inspired about how to live your life. This exercise forces you to think about how you want to be remembered….and if you are living that way now.  Many of us get caught up in the busyness of the day-to-day, and never step back to see if all that activity adds up to a life we are proud of.

Think for a second about those you’ll leave behind.  The kindest thing any of us can do for the people we love, who will inevitably be devastated by losing you,  is to plan and prepare. Execute a will and a trust. Decide who will be the best guardians of your children. Make sure the designated beneficiaries on your retirement accounts are up to date. See a financial advisor about life insurance- do you need it?  Let someone you trust know where the key to your safe deposit box is  and where to find the combination to your home safe ….store your important documents and make copies for a trusted friend or advisor.   Live lightly, when you buy stuff and store it, think about a loved one walking into a room or closet and having to decide whether to keep or toss, recycle or sell your belongings.

The Bay Bridge near catastrophe was scary and inconvenient but sometimes that’s what it takes to motivate us to make positive changes and to take care of business.

Take good care.

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