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As good as it gets!

When I received the news that my book had reached a fourth printing I thought I’d find a happy photo of the time when it had first been published. In the one I found I sure look happy posing with my new book. But then I noticed that behind me on the wall is the photo of my two sweethearts. I had put it there in my hotel room to remind me that they were waiting for me to return home after completing my book business in Tokyo.

They were waiting patiently and exploded with joy when I returned. I was so happy to be with them again. We were one big happy family.

However, just a few months later, Duke collapsed on a walk, and despite emergency surgery, died of pancreatic cancer, a week later. In a state of shock, I struggled to be present and caring for Sophie, his life partner. But she seemed to just give up the will to live and two months after, she too dropped dead on a walk in her favorite field.

The loss of my constant companions threw me into a state of world collapse. I felt empty and half dead, wanting to be with them, wherever they had gone. The meanings on which I built my life unexpectedly collapsed. Suddenly what had held me up was no longer there to support me.

When an old structure is torn away we feel inner rawness. This tenderness and nakedness is one of the most essential qualities of our humanness. We usually mask this vulnerability but the mask had been violently ripped away.

The photo unexpectedly reminded me that life is a constant process of gaining and losing--we get something we want and we lose something we care about. We have the joy of publishing a book, and we have the sorrow of losing our best friends.

This truth tells me to live fully in this moment -- to live as if, “this is as good as it gets.” We tend to think that if only a certain something would happen, then we would be happy. Our happiness is contingent on getting something we want and feel will magically make our lives complete.

These things may or may not happen, but even if they do, we will also lose something along the way. I tell myself, don’t think that only if and when a certain thing happens that I will be happy. By the time that desired thing happens, or soon thereafter, something you do not desire will happen too.

It’s the inevitable process of life - things change, you gain some things, you lose others. While it's good to have visions and goals, and work hard to realize them, you also need to recognize that though you may reach them, along the way you will also suffer many losses. And waiting and working for your desired changes to occur you won't be really living with appreciation for what you have, but living with an emptiness for what you don't have.

In the popular film with this title, the hero’s message is that life is never perfect, so seize the moment because this may be as good as it gets.

So I tell myself that this, right now, is living and my life may never get any better than it is right now. This may sound negative, as if I’m giving up on dreams of a better life. I’m not. I still imagine and hope for greater goodness in mine and everyone’s lives, especially those who I know and love.

But thinking “this is as good as it gets” serves as a constant reminder to live in the present moment. To be alive with gratitude for all that is being given, not in an illusion that there is an ideal future waiting. What if, this is as good as it gets and there is no more time, no more chances? So don’t wait, thinking it’s going to be any better someday. What if “someday” never comes.

This is as good as it gets” is a call to seize the day, to wake up from your half dream state and come alive. Live now! Appreciate what you have. Celebrate the gains, endure the losses, and be alive and present in the moment.

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