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If Not Now, When?

Several years ago, I had an uncomfortably close brush with death. In short, late one winter night, my dog Mojo and I were nearly hit by a car on the street in front of our house. It was late, dark and both Mojo and I were dressed in black from head to toe. I’m not sure my life flashed in front of my eyes, but what did was the realization that the life I was living could be over in a flash.

Once I overcame the shock and fear of that narrow miss, my mindset shifted from a state of procrastination and inaction into one of doing stuff. It’s as if the breeze that washed over me as the speeding car blew past flipped a switch which pushed me from having an “I’ll do it someday” mindset to one of “If not now, when?” I immediately signed up for my first triathlon, something I’d been wanting to do for several years but kept putting off. And, a few months later I completed my first sprint triathlon and became enamored with the sport.

Anyway, since that dark and dangerous night, the phrase “If not now, when?” has pushed me through some tough moments in training, business, and life. We all have them – the days when we don’t want to keep going – or even start; those occasions when we are feeling lazy or – perhaps just confident in the fact we can do whatever it is later. Many times the confident attitude is right – we CAN fill the car up with gas, get the groceries, or watch that Netflix movie at some future point.

But those things that really matter – those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities of snapping a picture of THIS sunset –enjoying the scenery while lost on a back road – or spending a few moments with an old friend during a chance meeting at the dentist’s office - those opportunities won’t be there later.

Last summer, a friend I’m going to call Chuck, told me how much he enjoyed my writing. Chuck had read one of my books and wanted to know what projects I was working on or when I’d have another book out. I sheepishly told him I hadn’t really been writing– you know just too much going on. But Chuck’s kind words and encouragement urged me on and I got back to it.

Since then, I’ve been involved in four book projects – three compilations and one of my own. I’ve also written a number of blog posts and started this podcast. Nearly every time I sit down to write, I think about Chuck and how his kind words helped change my mindset about writing from “I’ll do it later” to “If not now, when?”. I’m really grateful he didn’t wait to share his thoughts!

Another story comes to mind. Chuck is very handy and for a long time was the first person I would call when I needed something fixed at my house or spa. For the business anyway, he lived close by and could often come right over if he was not busy, truly embodying the “if not now, when?” philosophy.

One day, I called Chuck about some kind of plumbing emergency. I can’t remember what happened exactly – seems like we had an overflowing toilet. Whatever the case, he was on my doorstep within minutes, had the problem fixed, and was gone before I ever saw him – just like a superhero.

A few days later, a mutual friend told me Chuck had gotten married the week before and was on a short honeymoon with his new bride. I was taken aback since Chuck hadn’t said anything about it when we’d spoken. “What day was that?” I asked. Well, if you hadn’t already guessed, Chuck’s wedding was on the same day he fixed my plumbing issue…he stopped by on his way to the church.

It was truly an “If not now, when?” moment!

Today I found out Chuck is very ill and in the hospital with cancer that has begun to spread. I am stunned and shaken, but feel inspired to act as well. Today I am writing for Chuck – so I can express my appreciation for his words of encouragement, and superhero acts of service and say thank you for the many ways he has enriched my life.

Because if not now, when?

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