“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or your novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” ~ Anne Lamott
Happy Birthday, Daddy.
Today would be my father’s 88th birthday, if he were still here, whirling around the sun.
However, he died at 76.
Eleven years ago today, we spread his ashes on Puget Sound. There was a squall afterward, followed by a white-hot sun breaking through the clouds, just as I mopped up my tears with my sleeve.
He survived two wars (WWII and Korea) and burned through five marriages, including a couple that existed simultaneously, due to his ability to conveniently forget to divorce one wife prior to remarrying a new one. I can’t say I felt he was ever particularly happy with his life. He seemed to often compare himself to others – his friends, colleagues, acquaintances. He felt he never measured up. Others were more successful, moneyed, or lucky than he was.
He cared much too much about what others thought of him. Or what he thought they thought of him.
Forget the fact that you can never truly know what someone else’s life is like from the inside. If we measure ourselves through the lens of what we perceive others are accomplishing, we will inevitably feel bereft and fall short. The only comparison worth making is to our former selves. Are we better people now than we were yesterday? Have we grown?
Those are questions that are worth pursuing.
Working to become more, to become better than we used to be, now that’s a worthy pursuit.
Following your bliss.
No longer blaming others for your shit.
See, it’s all on us.
Every choice. Every morsel. Every drop.
Shake off what troubles you.
The only thing we get from blaming others for our troubles is a bad case of the victim blues.
The Nation of Victimization is no place to make yourself at home. It sucks there.
It gives all your power, all your energy to others, instead of investing it more reverently and prudently, in yourself.
It’s the exact definition of how to strangle your own joy.
Love, Not Fear.
So, I reflected all week on those wise words (above) from Anne Lamott. I posted the quote on Facebook, and it sure resonated with a lot of folks.
How many of us decided at some point — who can even remember when — that we needed to keep up with the (totally imaginary) Joneses? How many of us think that we must have no jiggle, no gray hair, no cellulite, no wrinkles, no flab — or we’re not welcome on the beach, in the pool, at the spa? In fact, I lived at an apartment complex for six years prior to moving to this rental house and I visited the pool there exactly zero times.
Why? What on earth possessed me?
Ostensibly because the complex was full of young hard bodies and super models, and I balked at the inevitable comparison, as the flabby professor.
Perhaps, I feared their judgment (or worse, my own). I didn’t swim, but I should have. I should have proudly sunned myself, not given a damn, looking like the middle-aged woman I am.
So, just live. Live Well.
Life is short. Our days are never guaranteed. What we do with them, and who we spend them on, matters much more deeply than any amount of money or the ability to outshine someone next to us. We each arrive with our own particular brand of wonderful already inside us. Our job is to set that wonder upon the world. To shower the world with the gifts we have. To open our hearts and minds. To become someone worth remembering, someone worth knowing. And that is never about what you possess or what you look like, it is about what you are.
So, my advice (to myself, more than anyone else) is to love your big ass and your juicy face and your real life.
Don’t waste your life living up to the expectations of others.
They won’t regret what you didn’t do. You will.
© 2014 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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