There's been a quote by Anne Lamott floating around the Internet and it's got me thinking...but not in the way you might imagine:
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid?
It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.
Well, for the past twenty years I made sure it didn't happen.
I've already written my memoir. And six novels. And three children's books. And swam naked in the ocean. And sunbathed sans clothes at the sulfur baths nearly every day when I lived at Esalen Institute in Big Sur. I've healed my people-pleasing persona and have cultivated a life that is rich, full, and undeniably juicy. And just yesterday while sitting on my front porch swing on a deliriously delightful day, I stared into space and watched the gentle spring breeze blow through the blossoming columbine in my garden. I'm living proof that one can create all of these things by choice...and not by chance.
Yet, there are days when I don't really feel like my life is all that fabulous.
I've lived long enough to know that a lot of people see the world as they are...not as it truly is. Many of them might look at the life I'm now living and think, "Man, that woman has it made. She's got her own house. Her own business. She's got a bunch of books coming out this year. She's healthy. She's doing what she loves."
While all of those things are absolutely true and I wouldn't change a thing about the long and often lonely path that got me here, I also know that by living it myself, I've come face to face with incredible and often overwhelming pain, undeniable drought...both financial and emotional. The price I've paid has been high along this road to a "big, juicy creative life." I've lost friends. Lost family. Time and again, I've let go of work that provided a steady income, but sucked me dry energetically and spiritually. More than once I've hit rock bottom and had to start again.
But as I look back now, those days are long over.
The pain of the past now just a memory.
This being human is a wonder and a mystery. I can live through utter darkness and walk into the indescribable light. I can embody all the things Anne Lamott proselytizes about and still not feel completely satisfied. Why not? Because the missing piece is not in what I do...what I have...what I know.
The missing piece is in the acceptance of who I am.
I can be bored or angry or complacent or frustrated or enamored. I can be stilted or soft. Elated or depressed. I can be all of these things and more, but the moment I realize that "this too shall pass," I can embrace the totality of my life more completely.
Nothing lasts forever.
One day I'll leave this earth...but I'm not dead yet. I only pray that in the time I have left, I'll walk softly, doing whatever it is I'm motivated to do. Creating what I'm here to create. Letting go of everything that is not who I really am.
At the end of all things, I'll simply shift into another realm of being. But until that time, whenever I'm in doubt, I'll turn off my mind, relax and float downstream. As the Beatles once encouraged us all, I'll play the game "Existence" to the end of the beginning.