Pretend this is your last day. Repeat every day.

I pull the covers up to my chin and wiggle into the warmth of the bed. The alarm is on ‘snooze’ and the next five minutes are luxurious, suspended in limbo between contemplative daydream and the languid spine-arcing stretch that signals the body to start the motor.

Grinding the coffee beans sets off a food trail pheromone that rouses me like a lepidopteron moth sniffing out a mate. It takes two cups to perk up the brain and dispatch the Tribune crossword; a third cup and I un-jumble the Jumble Puzzle in record time. Some say the caffeine is not good for you; others cite how drinking coffee reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis, cirrhosis of the liver and type 2 diabetes. There’s even a study showing that coffee may boost a woman’s sex drive but considering the test subjects were mice as yet there is no reason to miss the morning train to the office.

It may be odd to wake up the senses with coffee and the occasional Qi Gong exercises and then sit in front of the puja for my daily meditation but I like to be fully present as I start the journey from the head to the heart. I can focus on my breathing, concentrate on surfing my mantra, and separate the bucolic music from the noise of the traffic. When I lose myself to the silence I am not wandering in a daze; rather I am acutely aware of the ambient space, be it pastoral or astral.

The crisp air further awakens me as I tap-start the Health app on my i-phone, starting my walk through Maggie Daley Park trying for 10,000 steps and settling for whatever the result. As I walk I remind myself this is my last day so I stuff myself with sensory input; I have to take it all in.
I notice the tulips have started to bloom. There are buds on the aptly named Redbud trees that give meaning to the city’s motto, Urbs in Horto (city in a garden). One over-achiever sports a cluster of small pink flowers signaling what’s to come. Showoff!

Some kids are playing tag on the lawn and it’s clear that who is “it” doesn’t really matter; they are simply running around having fun. Their laughter is contagious. I don’t mind catching the bug.

By now I’m far south on Michigan Avenue checking the app on my phone that tells when the next bus is coming. How amazing is that! I’m astounded by the technology. It seems like only yesterday when I missed the last bus and walked eight miles in the middle of the night to get home before the dawn.

So much to be thankful for. So blessed to be alive. I remind myself to not take the miracle for granted; to take it all in while I can.

Tomorrow is not promised.

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