By Warren Howeler
Originally Published in The Rocket-Courier, Wyalusing, Pa.
About 20 years ago, I was flipping through channels due to a bout of insomnia when I came across Late Night with David Letterman, whose guest that night was the late Warren Zevon.
At the time, I had a vague knowledge of Zevon’s work, but I didn’t feel like flipping anymore and decided to leave it on CBS in the hopes that I would eventually fall asleep.
A little background on Zevon’s visit that night—he had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was performing one last time on his favorite late-night show.
I learned about those facts as I watched his interview with Letterman, who then asked him if there was anything he would like to say to people.
“Enjoy every sandwich” was Zevon’s response.
It is such a simple phrase, but it is something that I have just recently been taking to heart.
As I hit my mid-40s, I hate to admit it but I’m starting to get a little more conscious of my own mortality.
And, if we’re being honest, it terrifies me.
There are nights that I have trouble getting to sleep because I’m scared that I’m not going to wake up.
My mind sometimes is flooded with questions like how is my family going to be taken care of if I do pass away? Did I actually make a difference in my children’s lives? Did I remember to close the refrigerator door?
Sorry. Felt that I needed to inject a little levity before I thoroughly depressed the readership.
Back to the point, I am worried that I haven’t done anything with my life, but then, well, let’s bring back Mr. Zevon for a minute.
I only own one Warren Zevon album. It is the one that he recorded just before he passed. It is called The Wind.
The album itself is brilliant. His cover of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is beautiful and his duet with Bruce Springsteen—Disorder in the House—is a great rock song.
But it’s the last song on the album that has stuck with me the longest.
It is entitled Keep Me in Your Heart.
Essentially, the song is Zevon’s farewell to the world and encourages those he left behind to live their life to the fullest.
It is that last thought that I’ve been trying to take more to heart these days.
We should all be doing that. As I read one day when I was young, “you only get one chance at life—grab for all the gusto you can.”
Sadly, when I was younger, I didn’t appreciate that sentiment much.
I was always scared about trying something new. I would always come up with an excuse to not enjoy a particular aspect of life.
But over the last couple of years, I’ve wanted to expand my horizons—and I have wanted to become a better person not only for myself but for my family.
Two years ago, I went into the water and back up again at church. I want to think that I did change a little when I came out, but time will tell.
I’m trying to have more experiences with my family and make some new memories as we go forward.
I even got on the stage this last summer, which was a blast. I may do that again. We’ll see.
And there’s still a lot that I want to accomplish going forward.
I’m not looking at my age as the halfway point of my life.
I’m looking at it as the beginning of something new.
We only have one life to live.
Let’s have some fun with it.
Enjoy every sandwich.