Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello, Life


“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “WOW!! What a ride!”


I never understand why people take vacations to get away from their real lives. Real life should be a vacation and vacation should be like bonus points. Think about it. Vacation is all about being silly and relaxed and excited about the day. It’s about seeing new things and trying new foods and having great sex. It’s about feeling light and refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s about exploring the world with eager eyes and a willing heart. It’s about spending time with the ones you love, laughing and playing and getting all crazy. Shouldn’t life be like this every day? Why do we save the good stuff for only the special occasion?

Instead, what we typically do with real life is use ourselves up, run ourselves ragged, work until we just can’t work any more. We go to jobs we hate, hang out with people we can’t stand, and spend time with our loved ones only when we are finished with everything else. We get too little exercise, eat too much crap, and maybe save a few minutes for a quickie before falling into bed. We “Oh, my God, it’s Monday” and “Thank God it’s Friday.” When the weekend is over we wonder where it went. We gripe and grouse and absolutely never have enough time. We plan all year for the one or two weeks we have off, the one or two weeks that represent our ideal, the way we would live our lives should we never have to go to those jobs we hate with those people we can’t stand.

Do this. Think about your plans for the day. Write them down. Everything, from what you intend to eat for breakfast to the commute you know you will have to make. Now, if this were your last day here, your absolute last day on this earth, which of those things would you mark off the list and which would you keep? I know. I can hear you. I know what you’re thinking. But I need to pay the bills, pay the rent, keep my insurance. Well. Yes. But do this. Picture your life as one big vacation. You live in a place you love with people you enjoy and a job you actually want to go to. You eat beautiful delicious food that you either prepare yourself, if you happen to love to cook, or order, if you are somewhat spatula-challenged and in need of just a bit of help. You smile and laugh and dance to your heart’s content, whether, indeed, you “dance” or whether you don’t. Your friends and family get the best of you, not what’s left at the end of the day. You like every day, not just those beginning in “S”. And now let me ask. Are you not still paying the bills, paying the rent, and doing all those things you believe responsible adults are supposed to do? Of course you are. You are because you are still making money and living in a style that better fits you, not one you feel you are supposed to fit. And, mind you, you are not lying on the beach every day either. Some days, yes, but not every day. Honestly, as much as you enjoy a good book and a bottle of unsweetened iced tea with your feet in the sand, you could not do that every day for the rest of your life, just as you could not do ANY one thing every day for the rest of your life. But you wouldn’t want to sit on the beach every day any more now because you love your life, you love your life every day and have no more need to escape.

I’d like to relate a story here to illustrate my point, a story of someone I know who lived a life of drudgery and tedium and toil, a life devoid of joy and laughter and feeling full of heart. I’d like to tell you of this individual who lived for someday, who sacrificed the now for the later, who made grand plans of travel and time with friends, who drew out a sketch for a retirement to be envied and desired by all. I’d like to share with you the story of how this friend of mine counted down the days until the office goodbye complete with cutting of the vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and presentation of the commemorative plaque. I’d like to tell you that this story ends with those grand plans being left undone as this hard working, “now” sacrificing individual passes from this world too soon, passes too soon and with life left unlived. I’d like to tell you this story. I’d like to, but I can’t, as I have no story like this to relate. But I could. It happens all the time. I am sure that you could think of someone you know and tell me your story instead.

I never understand this. We shouldn’t have to take vacation to escape our lives. Our lives should be silly and relaxed and leave us excited about the day. We should see new things, try new foods, and have really great sex. We should feel light and refreshed and rejuvenated. We should explore the world with eager eyes and a willing heart, spend time with the ones we love, laughing and playing and getting all crazy. THAT is life. That is life. Vacation, then, my friend, vacation is the exclamation point at the end of that beautiful life.

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