My wife and I are drinking a lot of Champagne these days.
Well, I am not speaking literally.
On New Year’s Eve a few years back, we were searching for the perfect bottle to kick off the coming year. To help us make a good selection, we even asked for advice from an employee in the store. Big man, warm smile, and a silver ponytail resting between his shoulders.
Reaching into a black metal case, his muscular hands extended a blue bottle toward us, cradling it as if holding a newborn baby.
“This is one I’d highly recommend,” he said. “I have actually visited this vineyard in France. I first tasted this bottle while sitting in a grove outside the building.”
The story sold us hook, line, and sinker. We left the store with a discovery under one arm and a romantic tale planted in our hearts.
The story, however, runs out of fizz here.
Getting home, we placed the blue bottle into the refrigerator. And for one reason or another, the blue bottle spent the next 12 months taking turns standing next to jars of pickle spears or salsa.
But in those same 12 months, a good friend of mine went from healthy to abruptly losing his life from an unexpected illness. For me, his death continues to leave a big dent in my soul.
His spirit was one of loving life and taking every opportunity to learn and greet new experiences. In retrospect, he lived as if somewhere along the way, he somehow peeked at the end of his personal story and tried to outlive the number of remaining pages.
As the new year approached, my wife and I, still stinging from my friend’s passing, spotted the blue bottle nestled in the back of the refrigerator, sandwiched behind a carton of almond milk and bottled water. We recognized the bottle as a missed opportunity, one my friend would certainly not let slide past.
Looking at each other, we agreed the bottle would never see the closing of another year. From that day, the bottle silently shouted a reminder of moments missed. And in the name of my friend, my wife and I decided to live differently. Never would we carelessly push aside the opportunities under the false flag of believing our future days remain unlimited.
Three words now scroll across a chalkboard in the kitchen: “Drink the Champagne.”
“Drinking the Champagne” is not about alcohol, although the results of living life with your eyes wide open are intoxicating.
Something inside says to call a friend? You call your friend. Feel like learning to cook a new dish? You cook it. A book you want to read? You read it.
Being predisposed to action or no longer putting off life is powerfully rewarding. After all, living is for the brave, those with the courage to balance life with responsibility and dreams. Doing less is to sentence yourself to a deathbed of painful and needless regrets.
Drink the Champagne.