Sitting in this uncomfortable chair in a drafty waiting room at my optometrist’s office, I had a bit of an epiphany this week. Because I have lupus, there is always something to manage. It’s a tricky disease, but my complications are usually swelling and pain in my joint tissue, kind of like arthritis, which hurts…but is manageable. Lately, though, I’ve had problems with my right eye.

So, I called my doctor, because while you never know where your own immune system will attack next…well, you don’t take chances with your sight. Especially not at the risk of not being able to read another book or see the gorgeous leaves as they change in the fall or the colors of the flowers in the early summer.

But back to the epiphany.

I sat there in the waiting room, surrounded by all sorts of people — some older, some younger, one on oxygen, and one elderly couple that sort of propped each other up as they toddled in the door together, holding hands. Everyone had some vision issue, but I was sitting there worried about potential macular degeneration that had cropped up in the discussion over my symptoms that preceded this appointment.  So I was drinking in more of the mundane visual details than I’d normally bother to see.

As it turns out, my eye is fine. There is some swelling, but nothing a little extra rest, time, a few warm compresses, and some eye drops won’t mend. But the perspective that I gained there was enormous. And I want to share it with everyone this morning.

Don’t wait.

There are things important to all of us. Things we want to do. Things we want to say. People we love, that we don’t say that to nearly enough. Causes for which our hearts are committed…but our efforts don’t match our enthusiasm. That extra mile that we could go, but don’t. That lingering kiss we could plant…but haven’t. The beauty we miss by not bothering to look, every single day.

The elderly couple that I was talking about? The wife had tears in her eyes as they finished, so I’m guessing they got bad news from the doctor. And as they paused at the door to put on their jackets, I just wanted to help them somehow, but had no idea what to do. He helped her on with her coat, she smoothed down his collar and absentmindedly tucked in his tag at the neck. Then he took her hand, and pulled it through the crook of his arm, and lovingly patted it with his free hand before reaching with it for the door to head out to the parking area.

And then they were gone.

That question of how to help has lingered since then, and so I’m passing this forward: whatever it is that you have been meaning to do — for yourself, for your family, for someone you love, for someone who needs your hand up — don’t wait.

There has been a lot of divisive back and forth the last few weeks, some of it strident and bitter, some just plain angry or stupid or both. But in the end, none of it matters if we do not all sit up and start to realize that we are all — all of us — in this together. Our fate is tied to the ones closest to us, and those closest to them, and so on and so forth across the entirety of our nation and our world. We are all in this together. We have to find a way to get through this together.

If one of us sinks, we all begin to drown. If one of us starves, we all are less because of it. If one of us is beaten or hurt or put down, we feel that loss as though it is our own because a light in this world is diminished as that spirit is dimmed, and we all walk in a little more darkness as a result.

So, reach out to someone today. Listen to your own voice. Take the time to really see the beauty that surrounds you. Really see it. You never know what may be just around the corner for you, and it shouldn’t take a scare like mine to wake you up to the fact that life is how you live it in the now, not what you want to do with it someday. Don’t wait. But do pull up a chair…