One of the rabbis who spoke at synagogue this Rosh Hashanah (Okay, it was my husband!) made a powerful but simple point, a point that continues to resonate with me weeks later. This past summer, a good friend of his passed away. But friend is of course an inadequate word. We may have many friends with so many different types of relationships subsumed under that category. What made this person unique in my husband’s life was that he was really more of a mentor and a support – financially, emotionally, practically…he was a rock. Or so it seemed…

The blow came swiftly – walking on the golf course (his favorite leisure-time activity), he had a heart attack and fell over and that was it. No good-byes, no opportunities to make amends (if necessary) or make plans (although he was the type to have planned ahead). We were stunned on so many levels. And distraught and regretful.

My husband kept saying to me, “I thought I had more time. I thought I had more time.” More time to seek his advice and ask his answers to important questions. More time to cultivate his support. More time so that he could take that first trip to Israel that was scheduled for October. More time…

We all think we have more time. And we all put things off for that elusive moment in the future when it will suddenly appear. We are all waiting for some magic moment for our lives to really begin – when we successfully launch our kids, when they graduate college or get good jobs or get married or give us grandchildren – that’s when we’ll really start living. When I finish the next project, when it’s summer vacation, when I quit this job and take a different one, when I retire; that’s when my real life will begin.

But we don’t know how many of those future moments we have. Or, if we have them (please God), what they’ll look like. All we have is right now, this moment. And in this moment, we can choose to be our best selves – or not. We can choose to use the moment fully – or not. We can actualize or potential – or not.

If we don’t, we will have wasted a moment that we can’t get back. Sometimes we waste a day – we feel lethargic and we allow the day to drift by. We figure we’ll start afresh tomorrow. It’s the famous pattern of serial dieters. We break our diets, determine that the day is shot, indulge in more fattening foods, and vow to start again tomorrow.

But if, God forbid, we don’t have tomorrow, then we wasted today, lost in a haze of sugar and carbs, or binge-TV watching or ….name your indulgence.

I’m not saying that we don’t sometimes need a break (like at the end of every day!); we all need to recharge our batteries. We need big vacations and short ones and medium ones in between. But vacation is not the goal of life.

We all dream of better tomorrows and it’s wonderful to use our talents to try to make that happen. But even tomorrow is not the goal of life. Making the most of today is. All we have is this moment, right now. Nothing else is guaranteed or promised us.

This is not a new idea but it hit home with new force after our friend passed away. And it shaped our whole approach to the High Holidays this year. We will truly miss him and may the insights and focus we received from his passing help to elevate his soul.