I’m weary of the slow death that accompanies carefulness. I want to have more fun before I die. I know it’s selfish when so many around the world are starving, suffering, or being bludgeoned by bullies. But being alive brings longing, and the bucket list sits on my bedside table.
This pandemic year has been a constant reminder of danger, threat, death. Even if we’re in denial, it stared at us with bulging eyeballs over masks. Watching arms getting jabbed with vaccines on every newscast, poke, shove, ram -– it was too much, but we did it for our lives. We’ve been walking next to unmasked ghosts, hesitating to touch anything, our hands parched from sanitizers and soaps.
Facing the Fact is like chewing on a big chunk of indigestible rawhide. We all do it, we’re powerless in the face of its inevitability. But I’m more interested now in how to live life. I’m tired of feeling powerless. Instead, I prefer to ponder that five-letter word beginning with a “p” that polite people don’t mention. You know, power.
David Talbot describes his swipe with death and his paradoxical wakeup call in Between Heaven and Hell: “I felt more alive, and yet more in touch with death than I had for a long time, maybe ever.” This amazing man who founded the famous salon.com almost died from a serious stroke and writes about how his priorities changed.
We’ve survived devastating fires, harrowing elections and worldwide closed, Covid doors. I wonder if I can now step fully into life, not letting fear grab me by the (metaphorical) gonads. This year, I took some risks, entered some personal wrestling matches: I wrote an audio book, with no holds barred (The Power of Being Heard), told more people I love them and forged new terrain in mending broken friendships, leaving me more exposed, like running naked down the street, with no bra on.
So what now? What matters most? The clock’s ticking. As Kay Crista wrote, “If you’re not careful, you can give your whole life away. One chapter at a time. Rarely living your own wild nature… thinking you will have time later to follow that beckoning inner compass.”
Deadlines circle my heels, either for this column, God, or the big tax man. And sometimes I feel like I’m holding onto the end of a horse’s tail with daily duties. But, I’m determined to grab more gusto before I rest easy.
In Geneen Roth’s new book, This Magnificent Messy Life, she writes: “After the medical procedure I realized that this life wasn’t a dress rehearsal for some bigger, better promise around the corner. This was it, and breaths were numbered. I didn’t know how many breaths I had left – an eighty-year-old person takes about 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime, which meant I’d used up three-quarters of my actuarially allotted breaths – but it became apparent that no matter how charming I was or how many organic pomegranates I ate, not dying was not an option…. Over and over, with each day and each choice, I asked myself: Is this something on which I want to spend the breaths I have left?”
That my friends, is my question.