You’d learn a lot about a person (slash you’d be horrified) if you could get a copy of their Google search history. My single girl server is something like: “Jon Hamm white pants,” “Costco insurance,” “I’m jealous of Lena Dunham,” and “How did David Foster Wallace kill himself?” Re: the Lena Dunham thing, the way I feel about Lena is the same way I feel about Target – I kind of hate her, but I want to have her babies at the same time.
Oh your 20’s. Sometimes I wake up clutching a half-eaten bagel and there is a trail of my clothes on the floor because I didn’t quite make it to the pajamas phase. Other times I am a nail polished Carrie Bradshaw tornado of awesomeness who just ran six miles, wrote 10,000 words in her book and isn’t eating solid foods right now. Just kidding on the last one. There would be casualties if I ever went on a juice cleanse. I am confident I’d end up eating a pigeon. I think 20-something lives look like a Venn diagram of hot mess and Pinterest-perfect. Anthropologie outfits and my Mom’s crinkly cat pajamas just pulled from the hamper. Rock waterfalls and namastes VS. headless chickens with meager bank accounts.
Do you remember that Hasbro game, The Game of Life? I imagine the resounding answer is “yes” since that game is best friends with Mario Kart N64 and pogs. Fun fact, the game was originally invented by Milton Bradley in 1860, and you could do it all. Load your car up with plastic pink and blue children, sue someone for damages, take out a life insurance policy and BAM! You won at Life! All within 45 minutes or less. It goes without being said that a life well-lived can’t be judged that way. How much money you came out with, how many mini-yous you made. So what is it then? How do you live a life well? To the best you’re capable of?
And then come the answers. You have to exercise, and meditate, and drink orange juice, and do downward facing dogs, and work hard, and wish on lucky stars, and follow your dreams, and avoid carbohydrates, and heed your intuition, and read every day, and watch Girls, and avoid alcohol, and break your cigarettes in half, and travel, and do crystal healings, and make new friends, and open your mind, and always be learning, and listen to more music, and and and and and. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted right now just re-reading that.
I don’t have the answers. But I do believe that each person carries a one-time magic inside of them. Something like Halley’s Comet – you have to catch it with your eyes in the night sky because otherwise it will die without being seen. I think in each human soul there are possibilities that will never be repeated. It’s essentially potential, but I don’t like the word “potential” because it hints at PhDs and published books. By this potential, I mean “Celebrate this thing, this person you are, for a short time for that matter, because the Universe will never make another you.” Maybe that sounds trite, like something your parents would have said as they pushed you on the swing set. Maybe you’re hemming and hawing over there, grouping this into the “You can do whatever you want to do” and “You’re perfect as you are” category. But the truth is that the possibilities for your story, your given number of days – the body of work you could create, the people you could help, not just with the building blocks of your talent, but also with the cement of your character – those are a one shot deal. It’s like with the cicada – it comes up from the ground after years of being under the earth and then, almost immediately, it dies. We are like that, too, but we don’t think about things that way. Nature doesn’t repeat herself. And the truth is, no matter how lonely you feel or how scared you are, to someone you are the world. Your smile, what your laugh sounds like, what kind of person you are as a friend, mentor, and general human being – no one will remember that very long after you’re gone, but if you smile through everything, shine out of your heartache – then you’re introducing something new to the world. Then you’re not just looking at the life, admiring it as if it were in a case of glass, but you’ve changed it. You’ve given it some blood and now your heart beats along with it’s.
Sometimes I feel like I’m going to be happy tomorrow. When such and such happens, I’ll be happy then. When I meet so and so, everything will come together. Like my real life is waiting just a few miles ahead, flowers in hand under streamers and confetti.
Henry Miller said, “Everything lies in the attitude we assume towards the moment. Willy-nilly we are moving towards the Unknown, and the sooner and readier we give ourselves up to the experience, the better it will be for us… In his present fearsome state, man seems to have but one attitude, escape, wherein he is fixed as if in a nightmare. Not only does he refuse to accept his fears, but worse, he fears his fears. Everything seems infinitely worse than it is just because we are trying to escape.”
I think really deep down, we aren’t so much concerned with the things that tend to shatter us – like the loss of friends, lovers, even petty grievances – as much as we are focusing on escapes because we are just worried about the future in general. I’m no Freud, but it would make a lot of sense wouldn’t it? We like to have control – I like to have control. We’re humans, we’re hard-wired this way, so you like to have control, too.
When I’m having a bad day – when my Past is tugging on my sleeve and the future is throwing poison on my Present, I think about the wonder. I think about the memories I’ve made in museums in Paris, backyards in Colorado, runs in Beaver Creek. And I do know, I really do, that there are better things ahead than any I leave behind. I make sure to say “thanks” – thanks for the opportunities, the beauty, the family and the friends. Miller is right, you know. A totally blank page tends to scare us, but those blank pages have scared us before. Then, sure enough, really great stories were written there. And you picked up the pen. You and only you wrote your way out of it.