It's New Years Eve and I am sitting alone at my desk, swilling cheap champagne out of the bottle and thinking about life. What is it about the holiday season that makes me turn so introspective? Right now I’m as determined to finish this bottle of Friexenet by myself as I am to finish my entry for the week so, by the end of one or the other, as Bob Marley would say, "Everything’s gonna be alright" …right?
Not to turn all wino-philosopher on you, but, on a regular basis I have these moments where I look around me and realize, 'This is life. This is it. This breath, this moment, wait… that moment that just disappeared…this is life.'
It doesn’t hit me during fabulous moments, like the pyrotechnic display at the beginning of the Rolling Stones concert I went to in 1997, or when I held my son seconds after he was born. Those were completely Zen spaces of time when I wasn’t peering behind myself at the past or peeking ahead into the future.
The awareness hits me in quiet times, like when I am riding down the freeway, a quiet passenger in a quiet car, lulled into meditation by the muted "ohm" of tires endlessly rolling on blacktop. Completely relaxed, gazing half-lidded at trees as they flicker past, I'll feel a gap open in my consciousness.
A flood of realization pours in, reminding me that everything happening around me, the choices I make, the words I say, the things I experience with my senses as well as things only perceived, they are all happening right NOW, and not just to me here and now, but all over this world, to every living thing. This is our life, this very second, and what the hell are we doing with it anyway?
It sucks the breath right out of me. I’d compare it to the sensation you get, stargazing in a field on a moonless night, when suddenly your perspective shifts and it feels like, instead of lying on the chilly ground, you are falling into the sky.
Look at your hands. What do you see? Or feel if you clasp them together? So much of our reality is all in our heads. What does it mean, that we exist in the first place? Religion, philosophy, art...we are all trying to make sense of our purpose for being. All I know for certain is that my time here is finite.
With that knowledge, I am damned determined that I am going to lead a good life. One that is full of adventure and passion and benevolence and all the experiences I can cram into three quarters of a century, or however long I’ve still got left on this earth.
The other night we went out to eat. As I walked through the restaurant behind the hostess, I looked discretely at the faces of the other diners. Couples, families, friends out together, everyone looked so bored, disenchanted, lifeless. I thought “This is the zombie invasion everyone is so scared of! All these folks wallowing in complacence and apathy might as well be the living dead!”
I cannot, will not, allow that to happen to me. I want to do it all and see it all and share it all with my children. I want to lead a life less ordinary.
Sometimes I wonder if it is a character flaw, not being happy with just having “enough.” And I don’t mean material things. I simply want to discover the paramount, penultimate, the very epitome of…whatever it is I am doing.
There are big things I want. In this life I hope to see an opera at the Sydney Opera house, go on a photo safari in Kenya, scuba dive with sea otters off the Monterey coast and ski, just once, in the Alps. I’d snowboard there too, but I hear your butt takes a serious beating when you are first learning the sport.
On a smaller scale, one day I’ll trade in my master’s degree for a PhD. Dr. Lisa has a lovely ring to it! And I want to snag a few more leading roles in community theater. And I want to write a book, get published and even go on tour - like a literary rock star!
And day to day, I hope to discover the ultimate red velvet cake recipe, the best way to potty train my son and the shortest route between two places, any two places and all of them, because that sort of supreme knowledge leaves me giddy.
Life is too short and too wide to not make a conscious effort to fill our plates with all the best goodies it has to offer. One day my body will be too old carry me to the pyramids of Giza, too feeble to climb Kilimanjaro, so right now I need to fill myself with memories that will warm me in the winter of my days.
Until then, I am determined to stare life full in the face, grab it by the mane and ride it bareback into a blazing sunset.
If this life is my own, this moment, right now, then by God, I will live it.