The “good life” is your life. Whatever you choose.
What should I write? It’s a question I frequently throw out to trusted friends or sometimes just at dinner to rile up the conversation. It’s usually met with the same response
Er… I dunno. Whatever you want.
Helpful guys, thanks.
But when I was getting antsy to write this time, my usual question was answered with a not so usual response.
“Write about how there are so many people, including myself, that live their lives struggling, advancing in work, getting married, running in the rat race. Denying the true feeling that they have had for ever about their lives. They are a gypsy soul that wants to wander the world, have no place to hang their hat, love strong, say YES, die whenever but not from sickness.”
And at first, I could not figure out how to answer that text. But then I realized that I did know how to respond. I felt it, I understood. I could relate. I did it. Fuck, I LIVED it. All of it, every line.
I got married, because that’s what people do. Because I mistook loving someone for being deeply, truly and madly IN love with them. Then I got divorced and did it all again. Even the divorce part. Next my biological clock started ticking so loudly in my ears, I went BABY CRAZY. For four years, I listened to my biological clock pounding in my head, in spite of not having someone in my life that I would want to share a child or have a family with. Then, one day, I realized I’m not even really sure that I want kids.
And then I thought about it. Not kids, necessarily, but life.
I actually took the time to think about my life. And what do I want? What happened to all the things that I knew I wanted to do? I wanted to see Europe. All of it. Mountains and beaches and museums and cafes. I wanted to lay on the grass and stare at the Eiffel tower. I wanted to climb to the very top of Greece and look down to the ocean, see its stucco facade in all of it’s blue and white glory and watch the old men lead donkeys up and down the windy roads. I wanted to ride a gondola in Venice and smell the retchid loss of dignity the city has suffered going from a beautiful mystery to a city drowning in it’s own sewers.
And I was spoiled, blessed. I watched the wave riders from the beach in Bali. I walked for hours on the Great Wall of China. I toured the Great Ocean road in Southern Australia and gawked, open-mouthed and stunned at the raw beauty of Aboriginal paintings. The spark of wander lust was fueled; like someone recklessly splashing lighter fluid on the bonfire. It remained a fire that glowed, sometimes brightly, sometimes just an ember.
But as it does, if you let it, life happened. I got a job and found myself in a career. A year, then five and then a decade passed. My mind occasionally wandering back to a lust for travel. But the occasional longing to roam, well it’s the longing that confirms that I want it and need it. I need to GO.
I miss the feeling of standing in the customs line, my gut tight with knots, strangely and unnecessarily nervous. The same way that my muscles clench mildly during date. Knowing what I want, but not what to say to go about getting exactly that. Not sure if my hunger will be immediately satiated, or if I’ll need to justify it.
No place to hang my hat? Yeah. Been there. Lived in my car. Literally. A Ford Escort. A shower curtain rod hung between the two back windows to hang my work clothes. Everything else in the trunk. Missing my dog, knowing she was safe and loved and more cared for than I could provide after leaving her with a family friend. Crashing each night with a different friend or colleague. Do I long for that life again? I was going to say no, but unexpectedly, the idea makes my heart flutter with inexplicable excitement, my pulse and energy level rising in unison at the mere thought. And reminiscing about my unfulfilled desire to see the world, well, I could just sell the house, sell the car, buy an old VW bus and live in the vehicle again. An unexpected notion that has me surprised and titillated by unexplored possibilities…fascinating.
Love strong? Me? No.
Did you believe me? Yeah, neither do my friends. I fall in love. Hard and fast. As Sugarland puts it,” I’m slow to trust and I’m quick to love.” I love in a way that is strong and deep and I don’t want to let go. I don’t protect my heart. I don’t build walls or put up fences. I believe in being reckless with my heart, but not with other people’s. And I believe that there is peace in knowing that love is going to be gone someday and you only get more if you give it away.
Say YES? God, yes. Yes. Let’s do it, let’s go there, let’s try that. Yes, I trust you. Yes, I want you. Yes I know that you can, and very well might, break my heart, but yes to anything might ask. Let’ do it. YES.
I’m not ready to die though. In fact, I feel as though I could live forever. Surviving on the ebb and flow of the ocean. Stealing subtle intensities from the sky with each deep breath. Absorbing the suns energy like a plant and thriving on that.
I’ll say it again, just in case, I don’t want to die yet. I’m not ready. There’s too much life to live. Too much to see and do. Too many friends left to embrace. Too much love to give and accept.
Before I go, I want to dig in the dirt. and know that a tree will grow because I planted it. I don’t need to watch it grow. I have faith that the sun and sky and earth will watch over it for me.
I want to play in the surf, knowing that while I’m nowhere near “home” the waves could carry me there if I let them. If I could just be swallowed by the oceans and rivers for only a moment, to have them deposit me where they believe that I should land, maybe this crazy world would make sense.
I want to watch the sun until it becomes an eclipse. I want to spend my time seeing it rise and set and fight with the moon until they learn to compromise and share the calender.
But if I were taken from this world today I could rest easily. For I know that I have loved and been loved. I know that I’ve explored and experienced life. To it’s fullest? Not yet. But thankfully, I believe I still have time.
“I go where the wind blows. You can’t tame a wild rose. Welcome to my crazy life.”
*originally posted to elephant journal June 2012.