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Seize the moment.

My girlfriend Donna caused quite a scene at the beauty salon the other day. It was late on a Saturday afternoon and she'd been waiting for her hairstylist going on two hours when she calmly put down her magazine, picked up her coat and walked out. This would not even be worth mentioning except for one thing. Her hair was soaking wet at the time.

I know Donna didn't leave the beauty salon with her hair dripping in avocado conditioner to inspire me to change the way I look t time--how I spend it, pass it, waste it--but she did. There was a time, Donna told me over dinner a few days later, when she would never have thought about leaving the salon before her "do" was done. "Before it happened," she said, "I would have sat there all night."

"It" is what happened to her on a Tuesday night six months ago. That was the night Donna walked away from a car accident that, by all accounts, she shouldn't have survived. "Suddenly, I saw how fragile--and precious--every single moment we have really is, and I vowed I wouldn't waste another one," she says. Since that day, the old folks' admonishment to "seize the moment," to "live every day as if there will not be another" has been Donna's blueprint for living.

And it has clearly transformed her life. She has let go of all the relationships and situations that did nothing to promote her happiness and is grabbing on to the people and things that do. And you should see her. The Sister is radiant, practically glowing--which got me to thinking. Just think how much richer all of our lives would be if we adopted Donna's seize-the-moment philosophy.

A quick mental scan of every Sister I know well enough to share a cup of coffee with revealed how much and how often we forfeit our joy by putting our lives on hold until conditions are perfect--the dream vacation we don't take because there is no Mr. Right to share it with; the party we don't attend because we don't have anything to wear; the talents we don't develop because we are too busy/too tired/too afraid.

I have heard Black women much wiser than I say that the only things in life we ever really regret are the things we don't do. To quote Nikki Giovanni: "I really don't think life is about the I-could-have-beens. I could have been a professional ballplayer, but I met your mother; I could have been a professional dancer, but my mother didn't want me to go to New York; or any variation of the theme. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don't mind the failure, but I can't imagine that I'd forgive myself if I didn't try."

Out of this philosophy has come "Donna's List"--a catalog of time-wasting, energy-draining, spirit-depleting behaviors that she has dropped from her life like a hot potato. For weeks, she kept bugging me to compile my own. "Do it," she insisted, "and it will change your life."

And so I did.

And it has.

While it's still a work in progress, I hope you'll find something on my list that will help you to get started on your own.

I'M NOT GOING TO . . . diet.

Make healthy eating choices that serve me and my body temple, yes. But not diet.

I'M NOT GOING TO . . . say yes when I want to say no.

This is the first step toward curing ourselves of what Oprah calls "the disease to please." It's tough at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. And all discomfort you may feel fades in the face of what you get back--your time and your life.

I'M NOT GOING TO . . . hold onto grudges.

It hurts the grudge holder more than the holdee. In her powerful book, Transform Your Life, the Rev. Dr. Barbara King explains why. "First, the injustice itself continues to live in the person's mind just as though it happened five minutes ago. All the details--what the person said, how the remarks made the injured person feel...--everything is right there is vivid instant replay. This means that the painful experience continues to live in today's reality, taking up mental and emotional space that could be given the more uplifting productive thoughts."

I'M NOT GOING TO . . . view obstacles as anything other than opportunities to grow.

Like my mother always told me: "A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor."

I'M NOT GOING TO . . . confuse being alone with being lonely.

I don't know a single Sister who hasn't made this mistake more than a few times in her life. But, as Pearl Cleage reminds us in her book, Deals With The Devil And Other Reasons To Riot, being alone and being lonely are a different as night and day. Says Cleage: "Loneliness is random; solitude is ritual. Loneliness is black coffee and late-night television; solitude is herb tea and soft music. Solitude is an assertion of self-worth, because only in the stillness can we hear the truth of our own unique voices."

I'M NOT GOING TO . . . complain about what I don't have, can't do, or have yet to achieve.

Remember: Life is not so much a matter of position as of disposition.

I'M NOT GOING TO . . . tell other people how to live their lives.

Instead, I'm going to concentrate on living mine to the fullest. A pint of example is worth a gallon of advice.

I'M NOT GOING TO . . . sabotage my dreams by fearing the unknown.

After all, faith is the soul daring to go further than it can see.
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sisterspeak
Author:Randolph, Laura B.
Article Type:Column
Date:Apr 1, 1997
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