Now or never

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Many years ago, when wandering through a now-closed gift shop in the Osborne Village neighbourhood of Winnipeg, I saw a T-shirt featuring cartoon prairie dogs with powdered wigs and various musical instruments. The caption? “Gopher Baroque.” I loved the pun and wanted that shirt, but didn’t feel like shelling out the $15-20 or so on that particular day. When I went back a few weeks later the shirt was gone and I never saw it again.

In general, there aren’t many things that have had that effect on me. I’m not exactly a paragon of extreme consumerism, being quite content with a small wardrobe (from second-hand stores whenever possible), a 16-year-old car, and a penchant for uncluttering anything that isn’t likely to get used in a reasonable amount of time. Thus, when something really calls out to me, I’ve learned my lesson from the Gopher Baroque T-Shirt Incident and have gotten better at responding.

This evening I had one of those moments where an immediate response was called for. In the course of a shopping run, at my first stop I had noticed a Life Magazine commemorative issue about the Apollo 11 moon landing. The 50th anniversary is next week, July 20. I was fortunate enough to watch the event live on TV in 1969, and to this day I can’t hear the words “July 20” without immediately connecting them with the Apollo 11 mission.

I didn’t buy the magazine right then and there because I didn’t want to lose my place in a long line at the cash, but at my second stop it was also on display. That time I went up to the magazine on the rack, actually picked it up and paged through it, and had an emotional reaction that can best be described as “Squee! Want want want!”

Yes, I did buy it. It’s sitting on my dining room table at the moment. I see it becoming part of my astronomy library, and a significant keepsake, rather than a “should’ve gotten it when I had the chance” regret.

The importance of seizing an opportunity that resonates deeply with you applies even more to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. When offered the chance to go somewhere, do something, meet someone, is it something that makes your nerve endings sing, makes your heart beat a little bit faster? Is your first thought “I’d love to”?

All too often, there’s a “but” right after that “I’d love to.” Do your best to edit it out, and then consider: If you’re feeling that kind of passion, what will happen if you don’t take a chance, don’t do it? How will you feel about it, and yourself, in the light of hindsight? Far better to have memories than regrets.

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