A lot of us live with the notion that if something isn’t happening in this moment then something is wrong, the universe hates us, our horoscope was wrong or God isn’t going to answer our prayer. What if, instead of overthinking and overanalyzing, we take a moment to listen to what the lull in our life, the forced silence is so loudly telling us.
In the hours after Ken passed the silence felt like pure torture. One last laugh, one last “hey Rach”, one last good night…..they weren’t going to happen. The silence of being forever alone without him was louder than a marching band in my living room. The absolute silence in the church on the day of his funeral- I heard every fold of the flag before the Honor Guard handed it to me. I’ve experienced more truth telling silence in the days since he died than I ever had. It scares me, it comforts me, and it leaves me craving more.
Too often quiet is used as a synonym for some derivative of the word alone. While there are instances where this is true there is a profound difference between being alone, being left alone, and being lonely. Being alone is usually a choice-I’ve met people that had been disappointed by the human race in general and would rather be alone and I’ve also met people that need to be alone to recharge their mind. Being left alone can be defined as those 5 maybe 10 minutes to exhale and rethink laying hands on someone or saying things that require an apology. But lonely, lonely is a dark place difficult to walk away from. Those lonely days that silently appeared over and over are too many to count and I’ll never know if they made my journey through grief longer or harder. What I do know is that in all that painful silence I learned what a broken heart sounds like and eventually how the joyful sound of hope echoed.
After so much silence came the loud questioning of my own mortality. It’s natural to question the length of life when someone dies young-Ken’s midlife point was 21-that notion is mind blowing to me. I don’t think I looked at my own life in terms of numbered days because the clock is robbing me of my youth or looks but because I have so many dreams to make come true, walks to take, concerts to dance at, gazes to catch, words to write, love to give, and breathlessly happy moments to live. The lingering clouds of time, which hang over all of us, can’t be held responsible for our spark going out. We may never beat the clock but I’ll be a mother fucker if I don’t fully live every 360 degree swing of that minute hand. Challenge yourself to keep the spark lit, to make the most of those minutes. Condition your mind to believe you are meant for the good more than the bad and leave room in your heart for the unimaginable.
Once it sunk in that I’m not dying tomorrow and that I still have time to live the life I want I began the wild adventure of discovering who I am. I don’t think this is something that happens once in our life and we have some great epiphany where all the answers present themselves. I think it happens like we build muscle– we tear it down to grow it stronger. We have damaged areas caused by love gone wrong or love lost, by pain, by journeying down a path not meant for us and then, we find ourselves lost in the middle of our own lives. And then it begins- figuring out what we need, who we don’t need, and what will make the next day worth the effort. Each time we do this we discover new and wonderful things; we learn about our resiliency and just how invested we are in living our best life.
Strength has been one of my discoveries. People comment on how strong I am and how they couldn’t pull their life together like I have. I don’t think I moved forward more or less than any of you would have. Through that forward motion I found that my strength comes from doing for others. I have a fundamental need to be available to people-to encourage, to remind them of how wonderful they are, to let them know they are believed in, smart, and capable. Maybe that is what strength all about- being a candle and burning myself up so others can see. If I’m not strong for others beyond my quivering heart then I’m not living.
Traveling further on this path of self-discovery I had the most profound moments of self-appreciation. It was the acceptance that even without him I’m a whole person. So many people, not unlike me, get wrapped up in the idea that another person completes you. If you can’t have them or if you’re not with them you’re empty and incomplete. I am, you are, we all are the fucking cake- we always have been. Anyone else in our life is just icing and sprinkles. Scrape that shit off and yep, the cake is still there just as good as it was before they were added. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a cake covered in goodness. Go find someone that makes you laugh, that brings a smile to your face when you see their name pop up on your phone…go to that someone you find your mind wandering to. Those are the types of people that will compliment not complicate your life.
My outlook on any type of icing and sprinkles, of any relationship has shifted and molded into something beautiful. I don’t think people enter our lives on accident. Everyone suits some type of purpose even it’s to change us through heartache. I suppose I knew that long before I got to this point in my life but the part of my outlook that has changed is to let things ebb and flow. Nothing should be forced and not everyone is in our lives to fill the roles we believe they should. Appreciate who they are in this moment exactly as they are. I’d love to get my hands on a crystal ball to take a three second glance into the future. But, in doing so, I would miss out on the growth and memories made on the journey there.
These relationships we seek and those that find us….be it friends, best friends, confidants, lovers, soul mates, titled, or untitled. They are all the best experiences of our lives regardless of their longevity or depth; regardless of their pleasure or the sting of the exit wound. They have the ability to take us hostage and set our soul on fire just as they are able to leave us alone in the ashes. Through all of those experiences we smooth our edges, we learn self-love, we discover the reason our ribs are cages that house our wild hearts, and we come to realize that we are enough if not for anyone but ourselves.
I have experienced all types of people in my 46 years. But, during the last two years, I’ve had the pure delight of developing new relationships. I’ve had the opportunity to look beyond my selfish motives and let whatever is not meant for me be. I’ve lost connections with friends and I’ve run into the arms of strangers. I’ve left a piece of myself behind willingly with those who were guardians of my soul and I’ve lost pieces of myself within the chaos of who I believed people were to me. Never has there been a truer fact that not everyone is meant for you-not everyone is capable of loving you the way you need to be loved-not everyone is meant to stay. That’s not to say that people don’t come into our lives and make a difference for the better, because they do- but, for as beautiful as a painting can be, sometimes they’re not meant to hang on your wall forever.
Stop clinging to those things not meant for you and for shits sake please quit sacrificing who you are for any kind of relationship. Be with people who smile at your crooked glasses and then straighten them for you. Be with people who you can’t wait to hug knowing it’s just what the other person needs. Be with people who make time for you even if it’s as simple as a text message. Be with people that never make you wonder if you’re adding value to their life. Be with someone that is a three page love letter in a world of relationship status updates. Those are the types people that inspire me to stay wild.
Wild isn’t about immaturity or being reckless. Wild is letting who you are be the driving force through your life. Be kind, feel drunk from laughter, sing loudly, dance, grow stuff, write, work hard, work out, eat the cake, cry over toilet paper commercials, punch shit, ride horses, shoot a gun, hug like you mean it, apologize, tell people how you really feel, cook the best meal, love like crazy, feel it all, feel a little, ……but above all else be who you were meant to be and live where the other wild things are…..