While I’m here, I’m want to make life BIG. I want to live my dreams. I want to dream big and live bigger. How to do this with a (substantially) late start in the marathon of life, and with a gimp leg to boot? That is the question. And it all comes down to time.
There isn’t enough time. Or is there? Is there a way that my life could be trimmed of all its excess time-wasting activity? Or is that too utilitarian and Puritan in its approach? We all struggle in our relationship to time. When I was sick at home I spent most of my time with my eyes closed, praying, or meditating, and wishing myself dead. I felt good as dead, and my body’s state determined how this time was spent. I couldn’t do any of the things I loved, or see any of the people I loved in the world that they lived in. If they wanted to see me, they had to come bedside.
On bad days, I had nothing but time, but no energy to do anything with it. My body didn’t work. Time galore, empty and seemingly unending. My psyche resembled a windowless basement. With a leaky ceiling. And a musty smell. When I could manage to make it to the couch and keep my eyes open I watched hours of Food Network (right up until Paula Deen at which point I turned it off. True story. Never did resonate with me, that one. And I got nothin’ but love for Southerners). The image below is a chalkboard collaboration between the man-dude and I (from last year) about what I wanted to do with my time everyday (pending energy).
For our 1st marriage anniversary, the man-dude planned a (super easy) backpacking trip to accommodate my health. Having never been, I knew not of the hunger that would wrack me (I packed veggies)! It was the most rigorous physical activity of my life to date. I looked longingly at his cashew butter-covered pita and caved (luckily I had pre-dug my holes for the bathroom crises that was inevitable as a result of my eating gluten!) By the end of the trip, I was rabid for red meat. There were cows on the trail and every moo sent me pontificating about the burger I’d eat once we got out. I dreamt of burgers at night. When I did finally emerge from the woods, not only did I eat a burger at a local diner, but I ate red meat 3x a day for a week.
My hunger for a healthy life with energy and time to use that energy was like my body’s need for that red meat. And yet, when the good days came, I fumbled to figure out what to do. I could read anything, watch movies, walk through the neighborhood, and yet, often, I made it only as far as my studio and stared at the ceiling while twirling my hair and biting my inner lip, furiously scribbling in my journal about all of the things I could do with an open day. It would be as if I had emerged from the woods, headed straight to the diner with burger pupils spinning in my eyeballs, ordered a burger, and then couldn’t eat it.
Why? Part of the answer is that my body still stopped me dead in my tracks. My health management was (and still is) a full part-time job. But that’s not the whole picture. When my health is semi-stable, why do I squander some of my time when there are so many things I want to do to “live big”?
Because I’m human. I forget that every day I live and breathe is a day I’m moving closer to death (YOLO!). We live in a perpetual state of denial about our own mortality because we have to. It’s too paralyzing to realize. And this paralyzing state can best be represented by hour 4 on Pinterest, opening Instagram on autopilot, reading Craigslist for fun, obsessing over what’s better about my favorite blogs.
When I’m remembering my mortality? I’m cooking with gas as they say (or coals, cause they impart a smokier flavor). Literally.
How do you feel about the time you have left? About the way you’ve spent the time you’ve enjoyed with your health? About the passions that drive you to create, or consume, or conquer fears? Tell me. That is, if you have time.
And of course, marinate your chicken. Give it time to soak in all the flavors and juices. It’ll make it more tender and juicy and worthwhile. Read the recipes section for the 101 on making marinades. Take the time to put the marinade together the night before, and let the chicken soak for hours. Think of the spa. If you’re taking time out of a busy life to soak in a spa, you wouldn’t want to spend only 5 minutes right?
What Does Your Buddhist Heart Say?
live with urgency!
If these were your last days
would you walk quickly, or slowly, or not at all?
Would you lay under the sun? In the arms of your loved one?
Would you fuck like a rave crazed rabbit?
Would you smoke your last cigarette out of habit?
Have you thought about it?
If these were your last days
what work would you do? Would you make sure to laugh or cry or both
If you knew that you would die
would you drink water, wine, beer, or broth? Coffee, or tea with milk and honey?
Would you wear sandbags on your feet and walk with grace into the ocean?
If these were your last days
what would your last message be? Would you be brave enough to leave it?
What words would you speak and read and write?
What dreams would you ask for at night?
I urge you
press your ear against the ivory ornate Door in your psyche
until you can make out the faintest whispering;
(like gem-wisdoms that glow and glisten)
listen like it was god whispering to you
the secrets and small things that sew you.
Fatalize your life.
Move your body in a way that surprises you,
over play the music that makes you sing
Let dancing limbs deliver you
tell the people you love
that you love them.
Break a sweat,
eat a piece of fresh fruit,
find freshness in what you already have.
Close your eyes.
Observe the sky
of your mind
What talents are you cultivating?
What moments are you savoring?
What losses are you harboring?
Are you a fugitive in your own skin?
What places are you placing your trust?
into a place of emergency
Live with urgency!
Today’s your last day
What does your Buddhist heart say?