Photo: Marla Carlton in Malibu, CA
I just woke up from a dream, or perhaps a nightmare, where I learned that the Earth will implode on itself in two years. That’s it, two years from today. That’s all we’ve got. When I woke up, it got me thinking. What if that were true? What if we only had two years before some catastrophic event happened on earth that destroyed it. What would I do, if I knew I only had two years left, if everyone only had two years left? Should I be sitting at a desk?
I was really moved by Candy Chang’s Before I die I want to … movement. I’m not sure of her exact words but she said something like Thinking about death, clarifies your life. This hit home for me.
There are so many of us who just go through the motions each day. We aren’t happy. We don’t like our job. We don’t like our house. We don’t like our car. We don’t like the city we live in. We complain. We focus on the things we don’t have. We focus on things that don’t matter.
There are many gurus who have come along, urging us to simplify. Focus on the positive. Be grateful, notice the little things, enjoy the moments, cease the day. The Secret went as far as to imply if we just visualize enough then it will come to us, as long as we open the door that presents itself.
Many people just accept their lot in life. They are fine with a regular 9 to 5 job. They are fine with going to work each day, putting their child in the local public school or private school if they have the means, and doing their work, coming home, having a drink or not, going to bed and getting up and repeating it again and again. Working toward their vacations. Working toward retirement. Working toward … what? Is there a destination? Will we know when we get there? Will be happy when we reach our destination?
Life is about the journey, not the destination. Right?
Live each day as if it were your last … live in the moment … I tend to take things too literally. Literally. For me, if I am to live each day as if it were my last, then I’m not sure if I would go to work, and I work from home most of the time. I know I wouldn’t send my kids to school. I wouldn’t care if I owned a house. What would I want? I would want a car to explore with. I would read newspapers to retain a sense of community, connection. I miss community. I miss that.
If today were my last day, I would probably want to either be in a cabin in the mountains or at the beach – somewhere that I could look out on the horizon and really feel that this world is bigger than all of us. That we are just a tiny speck on this earth.
At the beach or in the mountains, I get this incredible feeling that there is more to life than things.
My children. Amazing little beings. So powerful. So strong-minded. So beautiful. So innocent. So spoiled. So entitled. So precocious.
I spend so much time trying to make sure they have a perfect childhood. A childhood better than I had. A childhood filled with joy. A childhood they will look back on and smile. A childhood without stress, without pain, without loss. Instead, in my pursuit of perfection, I miss the little things. I expect too much. I see their little faces, and I know they think they can never live up to my expectations.
Inevitably, whenever a tragedy happens such as 9/11 or Sandy Hook, I find myself reflecting on the meaning of life and how I choose to live mine. Usually, I feel the overwhelming sense of urgency to change. To stop. To notice. To take time with my kids. To live. Now. In the moment.
Yet, inevitably, I will continue my day as usual. My kids will go to school. I will pick them up, go home, pour a glass of wine, attempt to clean a bit, cook dinner, get baths running, read them a story if I can get them to settle down. And, if I’m still awake by the time I get them to sleep, I usually walk through the house with that look of exhaustion and wonder, with that “what the fuck I am doing?” look on my face. And I stare at my angels sleeping and think tomorrow is another day. Will I find meaning? Will I find clarity? Will I make progress toward my life’s ambition? For me, questioning my life’s purpose and refocusing energy on my passions are something I look forward to, creating a life of intention. My journey has begun.