How I found what I was looking for
U2 performs at the Gillette Stadium in June.

How I found what I was looking for

Is there is anything you have always wanted to do but keep putting off? Life is short. Do it.

BRATTLEBORO — Life is short - or, as the millennials say, yolo (you only live once).

We often use both phrases when we indulge ourselves. But what is hidden beneath these casual sayings?

Often, it is a fear that what we want in life is fleeting, so we should grab an ephemeral moment that might make us happy.

For years, I have been mulling a related behavior of why, knowing we are mortal and our time is limited, all of us have longings that are possible yet we fail to make reality.

This idea is the heart of Brattleboro Area Hospice's new campaign: “A Year Well Lived.”

We are inspired by people we have met at the end of their lives who have looked back and expressed gratitude that they focused on what gave their life meaning and thus lived their lives well.

The campaign asks you to consider if there is anything you have always wanted to do but keep putting off. Learn a skill, perhaps a foreign language? Take a trip, perhaps to see a friend who moved away? Make a new habit, perhaps a daily meditation practice?

In this campaign, you choose to act on one such longing that is possible this year.

* * *

Once we began this campaign, I knew I had to do it myself. What, I wondered, have I longed to do but had not done?

An article in Rolling Stone uncovered an old dream of mine: U2 was touring to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of The Joshua Tree, one of my favorite albums of music. A fan since 1983, I had never seen the band in concert due to my anxiety in large crowds.

Unfortunately for me, the location was Gillette Stadium, which holds more than 66,000 people. Could I, as the saying goes, feel the fear and do it anyway?

It turns out I could - and I did!

Several weeks ago, I felt a genuine thrill as the opening guitar riff of “Where the Streets Have No Name” began, and I joined 60,000 ecstatic fans outside Boston to hear this iconic music.

And my fear? The excitement of being completely immersed in something I love was a perfect remedy for my anxiety of being surrounded by thousands of people.

* * *

Since the concert, I have been pondering why this event is so deeply meaningful to me. I feel a level of energy and enthusiasm for life that I haven't felt in decades.

A few days later, I had a revelation: what I am feeling is even deeper than facing a fear.

The concert has awakened my dormant 20-year-old self, the dreamer who my adult self would say is filled with unrealistic hopes and interests that go far beyond the practical.

One of the more famous songs U2 performed is called “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.” How wonderful that I went to the concert and found more than what I was looking for: not only the courage to face a fear, but also a forgotten part of myself that gives me inspiration and energy at midlife as well.

* * *

And so, I ask you to consider: Are there things you've meant to do but haven't? Is it possible for you to do one of them this year?

Each of us has been given the gift of limited time on Earth. There is value in stepping back off autopilot every so often, remembering what gives us meaning, and making sure they are part of our life.

Others in our community are taking action and choosing to do something they've longed to do. I encourage you to join us and make this a year well lived.

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