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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