Thursday, February 28, 2013

People


Once, when I was feeling down on myself about my accomplishments in life, or lack thereof at the time, I remembered someone who’s life I had profoundly changed.  And it was a new friend, a very recent experience that I was still in the thick of, and it was a huge shift for me.  

There are marks to be made on this world, absolutely, but they don’t always involve winning awards, or getting a certain number of likes on your Facebook page or selling X amount of copies of your new record, or, heaven forbid, winning a Grammy.  These things are great, and we shouldn’t stop working towards what we want, but in the end it’s all about the people whom we have walked beside, maybe for a mile, maybe for a day, maybe just long enough for a story and a smile, maybe ‘til the very end of that long, long road.

I have saved peoples’ lives, I know this.  And some I couldn’t save, I know that too.  But if I’m going to measure myself by accomplishments (a bad habit, but I know we all do it) I’m damn well going to go by the lives I have changed for the better.  We’ve all made profound impacts on people throughout our lives, and what an incredibly beautiful thing about being human.  

Please take a moment to realize all the times you have made someone’s life better, whether it was a shoulder to cry on, good conversation, a giggle fest that just wouldn’t quit, saying “I love you,” “Thank you,” or simply calling them a friend and really meaning it.  These things matter, and much, much more than a lot of things we let get us down.  

If I am at all wise, it’s all my mother’s fault.  I dedicate this to her.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Long and Precious Road


Good things take time, a lot of them.  Not every good-thing-in-the-making gives us a feeling of instant and uplifting gratification.  The darkest hour is right before the dawn... there are a lot of words arranged to convey these kinds of sentiments.

I had a “what if” thought the other night.  What if I’m already doing all the right things?  What if I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing?  I haven’t quite figured out yet how to keep my sights on how far I’ve come, rather than only on how far there is left.  “How far I’ve come” somehow gets smooshed up into a tiny little space when I look back, while “how far I have left to go” stretches out forever, ominous and intimidating, far beyond the horizons I can see.  

When you’ve written down directions to get somewhere, but you’ve forgotten, or didn’t think it was important, to write down the distances between turns, how far do you go sometimes before turning around because you assume you’re going the wrong way?  

It’s always been hard for me to plan.  It’s been hard for me to invest in things that will take 6 months, or a year, or several years.  Up until my early 20’s (and somewhat onwards from there...) I was the queen of the 3 month relationship.  I’m not sure exactly what happened at that point, but the life force of The New exhaled its last breath and I needed the next fix.  

Maybe “fickle female” got to my head.  It was like I didn’t have enough trust in myself to make good decisions about what to invest my time and energy in.  Like the Big Bad Wolf (or Bratty Little Sister....what names do you have for That Part of You?) would have long jumped ship by the time we got there and resent the heck out of me for locking us up in that decision for so long (and I do NOT want to deal with that wrath!).   Like there were two of me: one to make promises and the other one sure to break them sooner or later.  

We are constantly heading in one direction or another and there is no possible promise of security, or success, or happiness, or anything else for that matter, despite how much we do to achieve it.  Do your best to point yourself somewhere good.  Do it every day.  

Then for God’s sake let off the brakes and enjoy the journey.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Answer is Always Right Here



It was in a noisy, crowded bar in Vancouver, BC after playing a show with the political punk band I was in at the time when I heard, and understood for the first time, those words.  

We had taken separate cars up and half the band had gotten times messed up, resulting in a rather frantic and immediate entry to the stage once everyone had arrived.  No sound check.  We just plugged in and went.  Sometimes that’s what you have to do.  

We stayed after to see the other bands, though noisy bars have never been my thing.  I don’t have the ears, or the voice, for it.  I don’t want anyone shouting in my ear, and I don’t want to shout in anyone else’s ear.  It just makes me cough, anyway.

My mind wandered, as it often does in proper pendulum fashion....a wide and graceful slow motion swoop back and forth between past and future.  (Isn’t it inevitable that it has to pass through the present each time?)  

If the grass is always greener on the other side (in the other tense?), then our Selves are always better over there, too.  If we can remove ourselves enough with a projection onto the future then maybe we won’t be burdened by us when the time comes.  If time heals everything then eventually it will just take the parts of us we don’t like away.....right?  Instead of removing the Big Bad Wolf of our ego and judgement, we would rather wait for time to take away everything that provokes it.  Typical ;)

Whatever answers we may seek, we can only find them right here.  This moment.  Even if the journey is 1,000 miles long there becomes here eventually.  Nothing can be discovered outside of now.  In fact....nothing can be said, felt, seen, experienced, feared, sung, drunk, heard, touched, celebrated, broken, destroyed, or even noticed outside of now.  

Once discovered, NOW is a vast and infinite canvas...yet we spend so much of our time trying to create our Life's Masterpiece safely hidden on the edges that don’t really exist.  You have all the room you need to create your incredible and unique work of art.  Don’t worry about taking up someone else’s space.  There is room in the moment for everyone and if we all could get together there, well, I dare say magic might happen.  (And I dare say it does.)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Prettiest Girl in the Room


Everyone harbors a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room.”  ~32 Flavors, Ani DiFranco

I think about that line a lot.  Sometimes it’s in the literal sense of how people compare their bodies to others and sometimes it’s more in how we get down on ourselves because of others’ accomplishments and attention.  It all ties together.

It’s true that I have been thin all my life.  And I have pretty much been 5’10” since the 4th grade.  I was the textbook definition of awkwardly scrawny, and still have a knobby knee complex that is truly ridiculous.  Because I tried to eat at least a little bit healthy in school, skipping the unidentifiable parts of high school lunches and going for salads instead, people assumed I was on diets and accused me (light-heartedly?  playfully?) of being anorexic.  (The still-clinging habits I adopted to try and prove people wrong are a whole other story!)

It’s taken me a long time to realize the fact that most of my life people have demonstrated that it’s ok to say things to each other like, “I hate you; you’re so skinny.”  And it’s “ok,” because people think it’s a compliment.  People think that phrases like that actually make someone feel good about themselves.  People think in that sense that if they put themselves down it will boost others up.

It’s completely inappropriate to talk to someone in that manner if they’re overweight, so why on earth is it ok to accuse someone of being under weight?  (And furthermore, when the heck did it become a compliment to tell someone you hate them??)

What’s the message learned from that?  “Shine too bright and you’ll make others around you feel bad about themselves.”  Ouch.  No one wants to do that.  Most people would rather hold themselves back than risk hurting other people and somehow the guilt is lessened if we diminish our light and keep ourselves down.

We need to fix this, in a big way.  We need a new model (take that as you will!).  As best I can figure it out we are all here to be as happy as we possibly can, and you know what?  Joy is beauty!  When we shine our brightest, when we do our best, when we follow our dreams, when we take care of ourselves, when we tell, and show, the world that we are in love with who we are, we help teach others how to do the same.  That’s what the world needs.  That’s a remarkable gift we can give each other. 

You are here to shine, with a light that is yours and only yours.  The world would not be the same without it.