Put On Your Red Shoes

My mantra for 2016.

If this post was a car, imagine that I started it up, and while I left it to do its engine-warming thing, someone hijacked it and drove it clear out of town.  The hijacker was Life … or really, her necessary-evil brother, Mortality.

Last week was rough, and not just for me.   The world lost two icons, David Bowie and Alan Rickman, and I lost a dear friend.  Almost lost my dog, too–no joke–but Alistair Rocket Dog is one very lucky pooch.

Everything that lives dies.  We all face it.  Parents, lovers, friends, children, strangers, pets.  The deserving and undeserving.  The old and the young and those in between.  We who are left behind–and everyone has someone who is left behind–struggle with survivor’s guilt, tangled in the darkness pouring through the gaping wound in our lives.  We combat the darkness with only stardust and memories.  Fragile, intangible things.

But this is the truth I hold to: We all get one life, whether it’s brief as a flickering candle or as long as a century.  We don’t get to know in advance what our allotment will be, but we all get a portion of feeling air in our lungs, and hearing the susurration of blood through our veins.  Sometimes life sucks.  But we get one, and if we’re lucky enough to make it to some semblance of adulthood, we get a say in how ours goes.

We have choice.  Sometimes it’s not much of one, but it is choice.  And this is the question of all our lives: What do you choose?

To quote part of my favorite poem, “The Summer Day” by the sublime Mary Oliver:

 

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

 

Read the full poem.  Go ahead.  I’ll be here.

I think of Bowie and Rickman and my friend.  Their day-to-days were very different, and yet all were full of creativity and courage.  Despite whatever fears crowded their minds, whatever limitations were placed on them by others, they stepped into who they were from minute-to-minute and year-to-year.  They did what they loved, and surrounded themselves with the people and work which gave them joy.  Then they shared that joy with the rest of the world.  What a fantastic legacy!

I hope that’s what we do–step into our joy, and share that joy with others.  We only get a brief time on this amazing ball of rock in this splendid galaxy, and there’s only one of each of us.  Whether you’re a butcher or baker or candlestick maker, you’re the only you that will ever be in the entire history of the universe.  Live your life as richly as you can, with all the love and pain and wonder as you can hold.

I know it’s easier said than done.  I do, I know.  But when my life is over, I don’t want to sigh and regret and think, “I could have, but I was too afraid.”  I don’t want to have merely existed, trapped in the shell that fear wrought.

Fear lies.  It tells us we can’t.  It tells us we shouldn’t.  It feeds us reasons to not.

 

Fear is a liar

It really truly is.

 

We don’t have time to “not”.  Don’t let fear win.

Shine on, my lovely, glorious friends.  Be brave with yourself, be bold. Remember that everything starts small.  Take one step, then take another.  Shine your unique, weird and wonderful light, and I’ll do my best to shine mine.  I hope together we light up the sky for whatever time is given us.

My small step is to write every day, regardless of depression or mood or subject.  What’s your small step?  What will you do with your one wild and precious life?

Put on your red shoes.  Let’s dance.

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