Eat, pray... LIVE? That's not a typo. I know that Elizabeth Whatshername wrote love, but if you want a blog about love, there are a million others out there! Google away! Although if you want a blog about loving life, today's entry might work.
Do you read Oprah or watch the show regularly trying to learn how to live your best life? Or maybe you are a fan of The Ethicist? Do you spend your days wondering WWJD ("What Would Jesus Do"). I don't, simply because I know he wouldn't have run the red light that I ran yesterday, said nasty things about a close friend or tell his daughter "I don't want you to dress like a putana!" Please cover up would have been more appropriate wording!
Where do you get the guidance you need to live a good life? Or are you, like many people, just trying to figure it out as you go along?
So far, this blog is mostly questions. The truth is I can't tell you how to live the life you have! But as I turned 40 (aka "half way to 80"), I realize that the challenge of my life isn't have I done everything I have wanted to do in life. I haven't ever been to Machu Picchu or the Galapagos Islands. But if I were to die tomorrow, could people at my funeral, or in my obituary say that I lived the best life I could in the time that I had? I think they could, so I'm doing well!
Unlike JFK or Neil Armstrong, Mother Theresa or John Lennon, no one is going to remember me for my world-changing career. I'm OK with that. But if I continue to speak my mind, I may be remembered for my wit (or, perhaps for those "awful things she said!"). If I continue to try new things, I may be remembered as a person who likes a challenge. If I continue to do things for other people, I'll be remembered as giving.
If I love, I'll be remembered with love.
So my message is to spend your life not wallowing on regrets, for we all have them! It's to be the best person you can be at any given moment. That's a tall and unrealistic order. So when you fail, be quick to forgive yourself. And forgive others, just as quickly.
You don't need to go to India, or Europe or Machu Picchu to find yourself. But there is nothing wrong with trying that approach. I spent a long time wandering Europe's outdoor markets and cultural landmarks seeking answers. I spent a lot of years worrying about my life and love. I've done some stupid things. Drank too much Shiraz. Kissed a few too many frogs. I wasted a lot of time being regretful and holding on to grudges. I still do these things - sans frog-kissing.
Did you do something enjoyable today? I did. I spent a lot of time talking with friends. Did you do something for someone else today? I did. I made a nice dinner. Did you try something new? I did. I was at a job interview, trying on a new future.
Life - for me - is not living by the reasons NOT to do something. I have always been scared by plenty of them. Why didn't I apply to Georgetown? So what if my grades weren't great! I should have paid the $25 application fee and tried my chances. I've spent way too much time using excuses for not doing things like that. That has to stop. "They're not hiring!" So I didn't send my resume, when maybe it would have sparked an interest. If I want something, I need to stop making excuses and go for it!
Sometimes, the spark in me forgets fear or logic or judgment and just DOES. That's when I'm living life. This summer I let a boat pull me at full speed while I stood on skis holding onto a rope. With the chilly, salt-water infused breeze in my face and hair, I felt fully alive. Last week, running with Diego, loud music filling my iPod-budded ears I felt it too. Standing in front of a podium, telling the school board what I want for my kids and yours, I feel powerful (and, let's face it, weak), but always alive, when my heart is pumping harder from the adrenaline of speaking in front of several hundred people trying to improve the educational options for my kids and yours. But sometimes it gets me into trouble. Words I can't really take back, are my most consistent example.
I'm lucky. I share my life with someone who also likes to see new places, try new things and he loves nothing more than sharing these experiences with our kids. Almost every free weekend he wants to get into the car or on a plane, book a hotel on priceline and see where the roads take us. When we were young, it was an Oregon beach. Now it's likely to be Toronto, Kauai or Fort Lauderdale. He works hard, he plays hard.
Like the video games (I so hate), life restarts every day. What do I want from today? I have a great life. It's OK to want more! And it's OK to go for it. No, I don't have a book deal to cover my world-tour expenses. But I have a lot of opportunities for happiness. I'm taking them, and not looking back. No excuses. Ready, Set, GO!