Life’s Too Short

Jamie Hughes avatar

by Jamie Hughes |

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Both of my sons — and, if I’m being honest, my husband — love Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Yes, that horrid stuff that comes in a blue box, the kind that you make with a packet of powdered cheese, milk and butter. Whenever I put some on the table alongside the meat and vegetables, it always gets hoovered up first.

This could be because noodles and cheese — in whatever form you get it — is delicious and comforting. And, for my husband, I think a good deal of nostalgia is involved, as well, since he grew up eating it in the ’80s when we didn’t know any better. (Just look back at photos of yourself from that zany, neon-drenched decade and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you.)

But here’s the funny thing: When I have time and can make mac and cheese from scratch, complete with a roux, spices, four kinds of cheese and big, beautiful noodles, they’re a little less gung-ho about it. They eat a respectable amount to make me happy, but the zeal just isn’t there. And here’s the kicker: I don’t think they know what they’re missing.

Dealing with multiple sclerosis has taught me a great deal about living a meaningful life. I never know what tomorrow might bring, so I don’t put things off. I redeem each and every minute I can and cram days full of memorable experiences. This isn’t done out of fear, though. It’s an attempt to live boldly and authentically and make every day matter.

Likewise, I never know when I might lose an ability (temporarily or forever) because of an exacerbation, so I am always on a quest to learn new things and perfect new talents. As an MS patient, I must savor what’s before me and keep moving on to bigger and better things.

I sum up this philosophy in one sentence: Life’s too short to settle for powdered cheese.

Sure, I’m an MS patient, but that doesn’t mean I have to reconcile myself to a second-class, make-do existence. The last thing I want to do is live a plastic-plant life, devoid of genuine experiences and real joy when there’s something so much better out there to be had.

For this endeavor, like so many things in my life, literature provides some much needed clarity. In “Walden“— the transcendentalist manifesto — Henry David Thoreau writes of his two-year experience living in a cabin outside Concord, Massachusetts. His reasoning behind such a strange experiment is revealing. He writes, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Can I get an amen, brothers and sisters?

Whether you’re living with MS or not, I say live deliberately. Don’t give in to resignation. Suck the marrow out of life. Live sturdily and put the rest to rout. Yes, yes, and yes to all that and more.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Larry Reynolds avatar

Larry Reynolds

That was awesome, I run a M.S. Support group and work as a counselor. I continuously steal from A.A. with the live life one day at a time philosophy.

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Larry, thank you so much for your kinds words about this piece. And thank you x 1,000 for running the support group and doing counseling. The folks who do that are truly lifesavers! Bless you, sir.

Alison McLachlan avatar

Alison McLachlan

I agree! So well written and really made me smile-a woman after my own heart . Found this, and read it when I really should be doing something else, see I've found the marrow, oh, and amen!!

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Alison, thank you so so much for your kind words. I'm glad they found you at the right time and helped you in some way. That's why I'm here. Keep on keeping on!

Richard Arnold avatar

Richard Arnold

I love it.

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Thanks for reading and reaching out, Richard!

June Dreger avatar

June Dreger

Hi Jamie,
Thank you for this! Love it!
Hope all is well with you and your little guys are well settled back to school.
Life is indeed too short for powdered cheese (but it works sometimes!) and what-ifs.
Keep the positivity bubbling!

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

So true, June. So true. Sometimes you have to make the best out of the powdered cheese! Hope all is well with you and yours as well. Many thanks for your encouragement.


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