A lot of the time we get so caught up in doing that we forget about being. And it’s true we will never be able to stem the flow of the emails or pour more sand in our hour glasses. There are appointments to keep, deadlines to be met, people to become. So, sometimes, we hold shaky cigarettes and cry. We stitch ourselves back together, because life is not perfect.
There are things that will erase our strength, like positive test results and loves lost. But if we could just crack open our craniums for a second and stamp a little reminder on our brains, I think we’d actually see the curves of the white trees lining Southern Californian freeways. The hugs, the beers, the flights of birds – these are crumbs of wonder. And life is more simple than we think.
“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner,” Colette once wrote. And when we are eighty, prune-wrinkled, and slouched in our wheelchairs, we will look at the Past and know that these were the good days. What will you wish you did differently then? Who do you see yourself as when you’re 40? 60? 80?
More than anything, at the end of my life, when I’m not beautiful or young, I want to know that everything I could have done I did. I want to know I didn’t let fear and worry win my battles. And I hope my funeral is crowded. Standing room only. Because I want to love more people and make more friends. I want to know that when I die, I will be remembered as someone who savored life’s sweetness. I want to be remembered, too, as someone who was tremendously interested in the world. I want to look back and know that I took the best of myself and molded it into something beautiful.
When I think about life that way, all laid out in front of me like that, I grow wings. I dip and soar on the wind forgetting the “always something.” My emails lose their heaviness and my money worries shrink. The world throbs with mini-miracles, interesting people, and pockets of beauty. I can actually see the orange glow of the sunset peeking through my blinds.
What is “aliveness”? Is it striving, comparing, achieving, searching, and Facebook checking? At some point, squished between recess and our first real jobs, I think we started taking ourselves too seriously.
I drove to Orange County for an editorial meeting yesterday, and as I did, I passed my ex-boyfriend’s exit. It’s not a place I drive by often because it’s so far north. The nights we shared together were so fun, and we never fought. Our routine included pairings of Trailer Park Boys and Pacificos. Quentin Tarantino and affection.
But I can rent a car and I have wrinkles, so I know hearts heal. I think I’ve had an average number of boyfriends, but with a lot of them, I thought, “What if this was it? What if they were Mr. Perfect?” But after lots of time (too much to talk about) it became clear they weren’t right for me. So I say to myself, “Acceptance is the answer to all your problems right now.” I think about what Steve Jobs said on his deathbed, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow.”
Today, think about how there is so much more going on than you realize. Sometimes being happy is forgetting yourself. It’s remembering you don’t have all the time in the world. It’s quieting the noise in your mind so you can realign with life’s mystery.
I remember today that I’m not just a girlfriend, a writer, a surfer, or an employee. But I have a friend who picked up my skis when I yard-saled it and wiped my tears too many times to count. This friend told me years ago, “You’re going to do great things, kid,” believing in me more than I believed in myself.
When things get hard, I remember mountain tops peeking over this stretch of Colorado freeway. I remember floating near the sand with my sisters in Hawaii. Life is beautiful. Period. That’s what I’m thinking now, and that’s what we should be thinking every moment of every day. Life is so beautiful.