Back in the mid-90s, there was a band called East to West that sang a song that said, “I want to live like I'm leaving.” The idea in these lyrics has never left me. How different would our lives be if we lived as though we were leaving? Although the song referenced leaving this life for eternity, I have been thinking about living like I'm leaving the places that I take for granted now.
The reality is that we are leaving. We're leaving jobs, cities, friends, family and eventually this life. Wherever we are in our lives, it is only a matter of time before we will leave. We often act as though we have all the time in the world to enjoy places, try new adventures and express our love for the people in our lives. Living like we're leaving means making the most of the time that we have wherever we are at in life.
Over my last few weeks in San Diego I tried to live like I was about to leave. One night I drove out of the way to eat some of San Diego's best tacos at Tacos El Gordo. There were tacos available much closer to home but I was leaving soon and wanted to make the most of my chances to enjoy the places I had come to love. I took every opportunity that I could to drink a pour over at the Coffee & Tea Collective. Taking pictures of places that had become ordinary, I wished to remember the beauty in the parts of San Diego that comprised my life there.
More important than visiting special places, living like we're leaving means spending time with the people in our lives and letting them know how much we appreciate them. I went out to dinner with the guys that I've met with weekly for most of the past six years. I had coffee with one of the pastors of our church, reflecting on the work we had done together there. On my last night in San Diego, I enjoyed a reunion with my old community group, the same people who connected me to the majority of the relationships that I treasured in San Diego.
It took deliberate intent to find people and spend time with them but I enjoyed reconnecting so much that it made me wonder why I don't do so more consistently. A few months ago a friend and mentor who has impacted my life more deeply than I will ever be able to comprehend, passed away. I knew that his health was declining. It was on my mind that I should check in on him. Then he was gone.
Life is short. A birthday at the end of last year reminded me that I'm not getting any younger. I need to learn how to live like I'm leaving, even when I have no plans to move. Let's not put off the experiences that we think we will have time for later. Most importantly, let's cherish the people that we love while we have the time to do so. I want to live like I'm leaving.