“There is no greater pain
than to remember, in our present grief,
~Francesca Da Rimini from Dante’s, The Divine Comedy Volume 1: Inferno
(My parents at their wedding in 1990. They separated shortly after I was born in 1993.)
This week, I interviewed my friend Cait about the “f” word. Wanna know what it is? Just click play.
Over the course of the last nine months that I’ve been sharing my writing, I am always pleasantly surprised when old friends and family members tell me they read my blog. I’ve never assumed anyone would. What’s even more is that they tell me they enjoy it! I am so grateful to these people and to my fellow bloggers for reading my work and becoming a part of my story. In honor of this, I decided to re-post the first piece I shared with the blogging community, my friends and family. Once this piece was published, it was Freshly Pressed and helped share my writing with hundreds of people I have never met. For those of you who have followed me from the beginning, I am forever grateful. For those that have begun to follow me over the course of these months, thank you so much! And to my future readers, I hope you enjoy my work as much as I enjoy doing it. You all inspire me to continue to do what I love. Have a wonderful day 🙂
The Only Thing We Have To Do In Life
I had a teacher in middle school who used to say the only thing in life we have to do, is die.
As a kid, it’s unknowingly easier to understand this concept. Rather than do things because we feel we have to, for the most part we do them because we want to. We dream of becoming an astronaut, ballerina, or movie star, and unaware of the “realities” of life, believe that one day we will achieve these dreams.
As we get older however, we’re bombarded with distractions–from the media, our jobs, our teachers, even our families–that make us believe these dreams are made for someone else–that they’re too outrageous and unachievable for ourselves. And before we know it, we find ourselves swept up in the trivial things we do day to day. Waking up on time, getting to class or work, running errands, watching TV, making dinner. Suddenly, it’s easy to believe we have to do these things. But actually, we don’t.
No matter what we do in life, the end result is the same. We die. Death; it’s the great equalizer. The one thing we all have to do. Everything else simply fills the time.
Knowing that this life will end leads me to believe that the only thing we all want, while we have this time, is to be happy.
So we can choose to be happy one of two ways:
- By doing what we are told we should do.
2. By doing what we want to do (and sometimes these things align with what we’re told we should do-like getting a college degree or falling in love, for example).
Choosing option #1 can be easy, falling into the pre-determined track of life that has been laid out before us. Go to school, get a degree, find a job, get married, have kids, and one day retire to an over 55 living community in Florida. I’m sure there are people who do get fulfillment out of leading this type of life, but I know that there are others who do not. And since you’re still reading this I know I’m talkin’ to you!
That’s why we have choice #2. However, choice #2 requires some work. We must accept that we will die, and then strip away distractions to look within ourselves to see what we want out of life right now, regardless of what anyone else may say. It requires being honest with yourself to see what really lies within. I don’t think it’s easy. I think it takes dedication to yourself and the dreams you had as a little boy or girl. Once we acknowledge our mortality, it’s easier to go after the things we truly want in life.
Many of us have ironically read Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” in our school years. Frost writes of “two roads diverged in a yellow wood” and the narrator must decide which path to take. Ultimately he chooses “the one less traveled”. I distinctly remember my teacher emphasizing how important it was to take this road “less traveled” in our lives and to not blindly follow others in their choices. We were encouraged to make our own decisions, even if they were less popular. I’m sure others who have studied this poem have been told something similar. Ironically however, as I’ve experienced myself, if we do take the road less traveled, or make a third road of our own-by taking time off of school, or not going to college at all, for example-it’s frowned upon. Frost ends his poem by writing that taking this road less traveled “has made all the difference”.
So here’s what I say; let us make a conscious effort every day to be the judge of what will make our lives fulfilling to ourselves. Let us judge our happiness by our own standards rather than others- a kind of “happy relativism”. Let us not allow others to define what will make our lives meaningful. I think it’s something we must work on every day, but eventually it can become a lifestyle. And let’s see just the difference it can make.
A new perspective on life…
Clear skies overhead.
My black dress dances with the wind.
Cold, gray, rectangles
the green grass underfoot.
25 MAR. 1912- 9 JULY 1979
AUG. 13 1919
APR. 30 1997
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
Three leaf clovers bloom from
carved Celtic crosses
framing the name.
Concerned voices mumble.
A hand shovel plows into dirt.
Small footsteps race through aisles.
But I am still,
grip the edges of a box
small enough for only
a handful of his remains.
I lay him to rest
with the grandmother I never met;
cover the hole,
read his speech from
eighteen years ago
to a son he’d never get the chance to know.
Maybe they fish together now.
I trail behind.
Clear skies overhead.
My black dress dances with the wind.
After going to the meeting for the All American High School Film Festival last Saturday (written about here: https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/all-american-high-school-film-festival/) I decided to walk through Central Park. I had no plans and no direction. I just followed the music. Here’s one man I found, Bert Lee, a singer/songwriter who performs in the park. This song was written about returning home to his wife after she moved back to New York after they had been living in the Keys. Check it out!