Get busy living

By Jeannie Perry


I had a really good talk with my best friend, Lisa, the other day. Of course, now that she’s gone from this life it’s not like I can just call her up at two in the morning anymore to reminisce about our twenty-plus-years of friendship…

“That hat’s wearing you, Felix.” –Patricia, Joe vs. the volcano.

Late at night, while crossing six lanes of traffic – not in the crosswalk – Lisa was struck by a car. She died there on the pavement, but the paramedics cracked her ribcage and got her heart started. She lived in the ICU for weeks and after that, in a Christian-run nursing home for years. Her brain stem was so damaged that she couldn’t communicate or eat, and her mom couldn’t let go of her only child, so there she stayed, stuck in a bed, until her heart finally stopped.


One of the many movies we had watched together, over the years, was The Shawshank Redemption. And throughout the ordeal, while I was driving back and forth to Denver to visit her in the hospital, in my head I kept hearing, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” –Andy, The Shawshank Redemption. Because it is hell to be stuck in between.

So, in order to talk to my best friend now, I had to contact a psychic medium. Sure, I was skeptical, but as soon as we started talking and the medium said something pertinent out of the blue, I was hooked. I listened to a stranger and heard the feelings of my best friend. I have to admit, it was a pleasant and peaceful surprise. And at the end, all these other voices piped up; apparently the ‘other side’ is just one big party full of deceased friends, relatives, and favorite mentors. That’s when I pictured Lisa listening to F. Scott Fitzgerald argue with Ernest Hemingway in the back of the room, cocktail in hand, and it brought an even bigger smile to my face.

The only previous experience I had with psychic mediums was watching the movie Ghost with Whoopi Goldberg and that Patricia Arquette show on television. As much as I love the idea of ghosts simply walking in and sitting down next to us, it’s hard for my logic-first mind to imagine. It’s easier for me to believe in energy imprints and memory reading than actual spirits wandering through the living room. And although I admit it would be great fun to hang out with Lord Byron and Dorothy Parker for an evening, I think daily life would be too difficult without normal, earthly boundaries like closed doors.

Losing my best friend taught me that life isn’t necessarily short, but it is fragile. Everything we busy ourselves with in a day isn’t as important as taking the time to sit down and talk to a friend. In other words, if there’s something you’ve always wanted to say, say it today. The one thing I know is that our energy lasts longer than man made history. Therefore, the most important part of our legacy is how much time was spent in a good space. The more we do to make ourselves and others feel good, the better the energy that we create.

All of our contributions to music, literature, politics, art, etc. are about posterity; trying to make a lasting impression and going for the longest rock-skipping ripple we can achieve. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that we are not as significant as we lead ourselves to believe.

“Let me put it this way, have you ever heard of Plato? Aristotle? Socrates? Morons.” –Vizzini, The Princess Bride.

The planet will continue to streak through space, the only question is whether or not humans will still live on it. And whether our great-grandchildren will have actually ever seen a bumble bee. While we still struggle with life’s basics: greed, envy, that never-ending nagging ennui, and while all of our inventions and discoveries pale in comparison to what Nature can accomplish in a day, from where I stand humans do have a purpose; a destiny. Our legacy is the energy that’s created by simply stopping to recount the good old days with our best friend.


Jeannie Perry lives in the Roaring Fork Valley and she still talks to Lisa; in-depth, honest, philosophical conversations peppered with movie quotes from the 80s and 90s.

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