This is an admittedly bizarre title choice for someone who once bawled her head off when taken on a fishing trip as a child (early indication of a future vegetarian). But the words came to me the other day when I realized that – as much as I like to think I’m a “go with the flow” kind of gal – I’m still prone to giving in to the temptation to put my dreams in a headlock and wrestle them down the path I’m oh-so-sure is the best one.
Of course, the wiser part of me knows this is a recipe for disaster (or at least disappointment). But sometimes the id screams like a toddler being forcibly removed from the toy aisle and the hubris of me insisting on doing things my way prevails.
So…what to say about why I haven’t posted in a few months? I could point to everything from family drama that ended with a relative in rehab to the standard-issue workload that comes with adulting. Maybe throw in toiling over a final edit on my novel and some good old-fashioned writer’s block to make it an airtight case.
But while all of the above events may be true, they’re still excuses. And if I championed them, I’d be creating an absurd rationale for why I’m not doing the one thing that makes me feel the most alive: putting words on a page.
So, why do we go silent on our life’s passions?
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
The choice seems obvious: you’ll be much happier in a constant state of wonder than you will be feeding on a steady diet of cynicism. But the decision to view things as beautiful in the face of a world filled with suffering and discord can feel self-indulgent at best, and completely delusional at worst.
But choosing to see everything through a divine lens isn’t just some Pollyanna panacea. It’s a perceptional shift that will change your life, and quite possibly the lives of those around you.
“We are all peers in the human experience.” – Maru Iabichela
We’re all made of the same basic building blocks. We all eat, drink, work, sleep…lather, rinse, repeat every 24 hours. The Constitution even confirms that we’re all created equal.
But somehow, we just don’t get that “all” includes us, too.
“No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a strange, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” – Martha Graham
You may not be redefining the world of dance like Martha did (my own musically-induced gyrations have prompted people to ask if they should call 911), but there is a bit of habitual dissatisfaction in all of us.
And I think it’s awesome.
But I didn’t always feel that way.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
– Christopher Robin to Winnie The Pooh
As I kid, I loved the tales of a potbellied bear and his posse that included a tiny pig, a grumpy donkey and a boy who adored him. His innocence made me smile, and I could definitely relate to his insatiable sweet tooth (honey for him, anything chocolate for me).
But as an adult, I realize that the stories aren’t just cute, they are full of wisdom and comfort…two things I could certainly use right now.
Which is why I’m writing this today.
The other night, my husband asked me, “If you could choose one moment in your life to live over again, what would it be?”
As one scenario after another flooded my mind, I decided further clarification was in order. So, I countered with, “Do you mean ‘relive’ as in it was so awesome I want to experience it again? Or as in, ‘Man, I screwed that up, and I wish I could go back and fix it?’”
He smiled and said, “Which one did you jump to first?”
And my response surprised me.
One of my very favorite Far Side cartoons is the one where the guy is admonishing his dog, “Ginger, I told you to stay out of the garbage! I’ve had it, Ginger!” and all she hears is “Blah blah blah…Ginger…blah blah blah…Ginger!”
I find it hilarious because – more often than I care to admit – I converse with my dogs like this after they’ve dug a hole to China in the backyard or treated the cat box like their personal snack bar. As they listen to me ranting in exasperation, I can see the thought bubbles forming above their canine noggins: “Oh, silly woman. If only you knew the joy of dirt flying in your face, or the delectable taste sensation of fresh cat turds. But alas, I shall let you continue in your blissful ignorance of the finer things in life.”
(Okay, so my dogs have ridiculous thought bubbles. They get it from their Mom.)
In this age of people sharing everything from their lunchtime burger to their family vacations on social media, it would seem that none of us have a problem being seen.
But being looked at isn’t the same as being truly seen.
It’s not a big risk to share a meme or join in the latest Facebook argument over whether we just swore in the savior of the free world or a misogynistic Cheeto. But revealing your whole, true self to the world (and no, half-naked selfies don’t count)…that’s an entirely different animal.
And it’s easier said than done. I know, because I wasn’t willing to do it for a very long time.
Like, oh…for about four decades.
“I’m only human.”
I used to say that all the time. Usually when I was failing miserably at something and wanted to deflect any suggestion that I should step up my game.
“I can’t write a book. I’m too busy. “
“I can’t create a website. Technology hates me.”
“How am I supposed to eat a salad when a perfectly good pan of brownies is in grave danger of going stale?”
I’m only human.
But while those three little words provided me with a handy-dandy hall pass for avoidance, it always felt wrong. Like I was using my status as a mere mortal as an excuse to not rise higher. To achieve all that I knew I was capable of.
So, what’s wrong with declaring yourself to be human?