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Andrew Rafalski

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The Life Starts Here
by Andrew Rafalski   

Last edited: Friday, March 22, 2002
Posted: Friday, March 22, 2002

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An everyday experience turned life-changing

I caught it out of the corner of my eye while rushing to a store at the shopping mall's far end. It was an unpretentious sign at a coffee stand. It read, "The Life Starts Here." That's all it said – “The Life Starts Here.”

As I weaved my way through the shopping crowd, the words bounced around in my head... "The life starts here." What an odd commentary, I thought. What does it mean? And why at a coffee stand in a mall in Philadelphia? I saw no connection.

As the words rattled around some more I slowed my rush... thinking... In reality my life does start here. Everything before this moment is gone, never to return. And my every present action contributes to and affects my future. In essence my life is starting now. I can turn the proverbial new leaf, start over, start right, start here.

Whether at the mall, at work, or on a mountaintop, our lives truly start here, wherever the "here" happens to be when we realize this truth. Puzzling over this I mused: Why am I rushing so? If my life starts here, let me start it right -- relaxed, calm, and collected. No sense starting in chaos. My life does start here. And I felt better already!

I sat down on a bench in the mall's fountain square, watching the water streams rise up and splash down in a mist. The sun, peeking through the skylights, cast a warm glow through the splashing water, reflecting luminous flashes of copper and silver from coins at the bottom of the fountain. Coins tossed by wishful thinkers? Where they wishing for a new start in their lives? What's it like to start fresh in life? I wondered as I observed the shoppers rushing to and fro.

Eventually I finished my errand and retraced my steps. Walking by the coffee stand I decided to look up that wondrous sign again. I read it and did a double take! The sign, while still plain and unassuming, had transformed itself, for this time it read: "The Line Starts Here." It was a direction sign put up by the stand owner to better manage his customers as they lined up to order.

Of course! A perfectly sensible and logical sign, which I misread in my headlong rush... What a letdown.

Yet it was only a momentary letdown. The other sign has vividly stayed with me. It's a great sign for a coffee stand or anywhere else. It's a great sign for us all: “The Life Starts Here.”

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Reviewed by Energy Shifter (Reader) 5/15/2002
Excellent. Wherever you go there you are.
Reviewed by Aamie Burnley 4/22/2002
... the time is always right for a new beginning. nice read, mr. r.
Reviewed by Damaa -- 3/25/2002
You read the sign right the first time. Interesting.
Reviewed by Florence Fry 3/22/2002
A great write. And how right you were to read the sign for what it came to mean for you.

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