Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

In the off chance there’s a soul or two out there who might be wondering what I’ve been doing with myself since that fateful day....

I have no income, so I’m not shopping, going out for breakfasts, lunches, or dinners, buying lattes at Second Cup, getting pedicures, or doing any of the other things that typically made up the everyday and kept the money flowing out of MFL (My Former Life). I’m also not clock-watching from 9 am to 5 pm (or more recently, 8 am to 8 pm), Monday to Friday, living for my weekends. What I AM doing is something that I’ve desperately wanted and needed to do for years: taking time to stop and think.

It’s all such a romantic notion, pushing the envelope of life; throwing all caution to the wind, going for broke, chasing one’s dreams. You could spend a lifetime reading greeting cards and wall plaques about it. There’s a tiny swelling in our hearts whenever we read Helen Keller’s famous quote, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing”...a flash of poignancy dashes through our subconscious as we momentarily imagine that this is us. That’s me! My life is a daring adventure! It isn’t nothing! We all want to conduct ourselves in accordance with the insight that life is short. This ain’t no dress rehearsal. We only go around once. Etc Etc Etc. But in the harsh reality of day, for many people the truth is this: We only cheer it on as long as it doesn’t in any way threaten our own safe, insulated, predictable, somewhat financially stable lives. I should know: I lived that way for more years than I am comfortable admitting.

And the truth is, it’s not so romantic. I just went to visit my chequing account on line and it has a balance of $13.90. I’m sure Thelma and Louise drove off that cliff so that at least in part they would not have to go home to bank balances of $13.90. I went to Canadian Tire and made the cashier put my transaction on hold while I ran across the parking lot to fish $7.75 in Canadian Tire money out of my car glove box. There is not a smidge of romance in this.

Yet, dire financial situation aside, I can say this: I am acutely, uncannily, unprecedentedly, incredibly aware of every single moment, action and thought, every minute of every day.
And that, my friend, is living.

I think these difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes around worrying about are of no importance whatsoever. — Isak Dinesen


Leila said...

my MFL started a year ago when I WAS fired. but it was the craziest and best thing EVER. baptism of fire. love your story so far. you're on the right track. and who needs those fucking lattes anyways.

Leila said...

by natalie goldberg:
"…I wouldn’t want people to say of me only “She was a great teacher” or “I loved her writing.” I would like at least one person to come closer, to add, “She was also lonely, she suffered a lot. She was mixed up. She made some big mistakes.” Then tell those mistakes and sum up: “But she was important to me.” Then I would feel really honored, as though someone had seen and known me."