"Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think."
-Michel de Montaigne

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stop Waiting, Start Living

"My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends. It gives a lovely light."

--Edna St. Vincent Millay

I don't think I've ever simultaneously neglected and nurtured myself to this extent. Let me explain. For the first time in my life, I feel like something is actually on the horizon because I'm consciously putting it there. And that requires a lot, metabolically speaking.

The future is not this amorphous thing, even though I have no idea what will happen to me in the next hour. Of course if I don't unexpectedly keel over from an aneurysm, there will be work, and the commute home, dinner made for my family, and bed time stories for Ava. But I guess what I mean is, I am conscious of the future I am creating for myself: repercussions, pains, pleasures, and all. I'm writing this after having stayed up until 3 am to finish homework, so maybe the overdose of caffeine and the lovely crisp weather is making me grandiose, but I don't think so.

I'm tired of waiting for my Hollywood ending, for life to come banging on my door as if it is obligated to me alone.

In August of 2009, I looked at my father in a casket.I held the weight of his body in a box, poured his ashes into the ocean. He was 45. And as trite and common as this may sound to many, something inside of me snapped. My father told me once that he wanted to be an architect. He wanted to build things, be both an artist and a mathematician. In no way do I believe that his life was wasted or cheapened because he did not do those things. It's just that, I know how bitter that was for him at times, knowing that he could have had something else, something more.

The last year, I have nearly broken myself apart living my life. I rarely sleep. I've gotten down to about 1 or 2 meals a day, max, because I'm writing every chance I get. There are days and even whole weeks where I feel so burdened by school obligations and life and my own self that I cannot talk to people. BUT. And here it is:

I am alive.

I will not waste my time chasing down retirement. If this means living a life that is odd or inconvenient to some, so be it. What extraordinary person ever lived a life that looked like a carbon copy of someone elses'? Some people may call me crazy for it, but I'm telling you what's crazy is living like you have time. For me it is writing, but for someone else it could be starting a family or a business. Maybe it's a mission trip you keep sweeping under the rug, or a move to another state. Or a job that you hate but are too fearful to leave. What really is our excuse when the smallest, most insignificant thing could end our lives this very hour? Perhaps the best thing we can do to combat the grave--even over and above diet and exercise--is pursuing a life worth living now. Mistakes. Scars. Memories. Relationships. Art. Even if it means making ourselves look ridiculous from time to time.

We are candles, light. Impractical and beautiful things. Candles are useless if they sit in the cupboard waiting for a power outage. Candles were meant to burn. And burn I will.


  1. "Perhaps the best thing we can do to combat the grave--even over and above diet and exercise--is pursuing a life worth living now." This is SO true. Thanks for that!

  2. You are such a beautiful lady, truly. I love how you are willing to be so vulnerable. The bit about your dad wasn't trite, it was hard to read.