Aware of the treasure

Jeff, Matt and Pasha walk the fitness trail of our York neighborhood, August 2007

Jeff, Matt and Pasha walk the fitness trail of our York neighborhood, August 2007

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.”
 Mary Jean Irion

Wherever you are right now, stop and listen; look around you. Whatever you see or hear — the voices of your loved ones, the bustle of your workplace, the quiet of your home after others have left, your well-tended garden and your beloved pets and handmade decorations — all the minutiae of your present surroundings will one day belong to a vanished past. The magazines and books lying around now, if they survive at all, will soon seem passé, then eventually become quaint collector’s items. The photographs on your walls will fade and appear dated, the hairstyles and clothes hinting of bygone eras.

If this sounds a bit depressing, it need not be. A long life is a mixed blessing in some respects, but most of us would prefer to live into old age, even knowing it will mean many goodbyes. Yet there’s something tricky about the reality of everyday life; it perpetuates an illusion of permanence that vanishes under the most cursory reflection, but keeps reappearing nonetheless, clouding our vision and sapping our sensitivity to wonder. Thus we fritter away the hours and days without taking much thought of how we fill them, believing an endless stream of sameness is sure to follow.

The changes may come gradually, or they may happen abruptly: a single phone call, an unexpected turn of events, a catastrophic diagnosis or a tragic accident. In any case, time passes more quickly than we are able to imagine.  I don’t want to waste any time fretting over things that will not matter in the end. I want to savor life, spread joy, laugh often and show others I love them. I want to take it all in, while it is here and now, and face the future without regrets.

What are the treasures in your everyday life? What do you love best about now?

This post was originally published seven years ago today. Already, seven years later, much of the world I knew when I first wrote this has vanished irrevocably. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Susan

    Beautiful, Julia, and so appropriate for what we are all going through right now. Sadly, you know more than most people how much ordinary life can be upended. Yet you continue to share positive thoughts with others. Where are you now? Safe at home, I hope?

    • Hi Susan! As always, I appreciate your kind words. Yes, Matt and I are “hunkering down” at our home(s). Staying well so far. Hope you and your family are well also? I’ve had to cancel four upcoming trips, all of which were exciting (one Europe, one England, one Alaska, and one the Berkshire-Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, which I’ve always wanted to attend). But aside from those disappointments, I’ve actually felt LESS isolated during the shutdown, because of having Matt with me all the time. For the most part, we have not been greatly affected so far.

  2. Mary Ellen Davis

    Thank you Julia! I love this poem! It called to mind a normal day sitting on the floor in front of the sofa watching TV with my boy. So I found a picture of us that day and made it my phone screen saver. Me and Nick.
    Nicholas Martin Davis February 21, 1996 – January 22, 2016. (Motorcycle accident)

    • Oh Mary Ellen, I am so sad for the sorrow you have dealt with. I’m not sure I could manage having the photo on my phone. I still don’t have any photos of Jeff on display (other than a few in the family collage frames I put together years ago). Are you able to feel more happiness than sadness when you see it? I am just now getting to the point where I have as much pleasure in the memories of Jeff, as I have heartbreak over not having him still here. For a long time I thought that would never happen, but I think it is starting to. I hadn’t realized before that you and I experienced life-changing grief in the same year, 2016. Thank you for being here with us, and for sharing about Nick. ❤ ❤ ❤

  3. MaryAnn

    Hi Julia, This post appeared on Facebook. I’m so glad I saw it, as I still don’t get Defeat Despair in my current email. You & Matt have been on my mind & in my prayers, even more so with the virus scare. Your response to Susan makes me very happy, because I was wondering if you & Matt were together.
    Your words from 7 years ago are poignant, requiring an inspection of my daily actions. Paul & I watch online church at & follow Max Lucado’s daily videos about the virus.
    The Huckabee Show this weekend is very informative: a doctor talks about the virus; a Chinese American speaks to the mistakes China made.
    Love & hugs to you & Matt,

    • Hi Mary Ann, thanks for checking in. I know that the NorCal Republic has been hit especially hard – how is Vacaville doing? Matt is staying with me full time during the shutdown; it’s what he and I both wanted. Hope you and Paul are staying safe and well! ❤

      • MaryAnn

        We are “sheltered-in-place”, feeling fine. Our grandson, Aaron, “required” us to stay home even B4 it became an issue. He was correct.

        • Aaron is a sharp guy. Glad he is watching out for you! ❤

  4. MaryAnn

    I hope my comments went to you.
    I just got a notification from Defeat Despair to confirm my subscription.
    Hopefully, I will get your blogs, now.

    • Good! I hope it works for you. WordPress can be difficult sometimes, even for me after all these years. As with other things related to computers, they don’t always work as we expect them to. Thanks for being here– your comments did come through, I’m just late getting to the comments lately. 😀

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