No matter what, you can live passionately

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What will remain of your life after you die?

My Jack Russell Terrier, Bandit, and I have walked past the same tree on 70th Avenue in Schererville almost every day for eight years.

Inevitably, the same gray squirrel dashes past. Barking, Bandit always gives chase–in vain, because the leash stops him.

Yesterday, we reached the squirrel’s lair, and the usual happened. He dashed past, and Bandit gave chase.

Then something unusual happened. I tripped on uneven concrete, and Bandit’s leash flew from my grasp. The squirrel clambered up the tree, and Bandit did too, getting close, closer—I yelled, “Bandit!” and he halted long enough for me to pull him down.

In human years, Bandit is sixty. He’s so plump from snarfing the McNuggets the kids sneak him, my vet warned me he needs gastric bypass surgery.

But Bandit doesn’t know all that. He doesn’t know dogs can’t climb trees.

As I watched the squirrel disappear into the tree’s upper leaves, I pulled two, long, tail hairs from Bandit’s grinning mouth.

What do you think you can’t do today?

One reason animals aren’t tense is because they live in the present tense, making them fully awake to their surroundings.

Last week, we attended a Sox game. I got $120 worth of free tickets from the Kids Club. Parking cost $20. Drinks cost $22.50.

That’s an evening costing at least $165, not including gas. With the Indiana minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, you could work twenty-two hours to attend that game.

Yet the fans around me spent half the game on their cell phones. Is it worth half a week’s work to give a thumbs up to a kitten picture on facebook?

My writing students are reading From Inquiry to Academic Writing, by Greene and Lidinsky, and the authors emphasize we should constantly ask, “Can we do better?” But I believe we must also ask, “Can I live more passionately?”

Much of the time you use your cell phone and computer, the answer is no. Usually we allow technology uncontrolled access to our thoughts—for example, setting no time limits on facebooking or e-mailing.

Worse, when your cell phone rings, for a split second, you are schizophrenic, your consciousness splintered so that one self attends to the cell phone, and the other, your surroundings.

Not mindful, not passionate.

So be mindful when you turn on your cell phone: Is that the best way for you to send your message? Would you enjoy the exchange more in person?

On-line, I sometimes find myself sucked in to stupid pastimes. And I have to stop and think: How passionate am I about taking the quiz What National Park Are You?

As you go through today, live as mindfully, as passionately, as possible. Don’t settle for less. You’re too valuable for that.

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About Rebecca Bailey

* Columnist, The Times of Northwest Indiana, for three years. * Professor for twelve years. * Mom of four teeny kids. * Voted "Most Dramatic," Castle Junior High School eighth grade, 1984. * Failed to diaper her first child before he projectile-pooped on the curtains. * Accidentally splattered her white Jack Russell Terrier with her red hair dye, which did not come out.

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