What being alive for 24 years has taught me
On my birthday, I get somewhat sentimental. I’ve always been that way. The End of an Era makes me a little misty-eyed — even if I was only getting my braces off.
Now, I am about to embark on another year, another part of my journey. This is my sentimental ode to being Alive for nearly quarter of a century.
Being Alive takes work.
If you think that Merely Living is the same thing as Being Alive, you are wrong. Being Alive takes guts. It takes passion. It takes vulnerability.
Because, Being Alive is some scary shit.
It means that you have feelings. It also means that those feelings may get hurt (they do). Or you will get hurt (you will). Remember — that’s okay.
That’s better than being Numb.
Don’t Be Numb. You are very good at that.
When you are Numb, you force yourself not to feel Anything. On the good side, you don’t feel hurt. On the bad side, you don’t feel…Anything.
You don’t feel that overwhelming sense of beauty when you see the sun rise. Or when you hear music played in harmony. Or when you see strangers playing chess in the park.
You also don’t feel that pure sense of joy when you laugh with someone that you love. Or when you conquer the Earth with your own two feet. Or when you breathe in the newness of a place for the very first time.
You are just Numb.
So, Being Alive for 24 years has shown me this: You have to choose living. You need to be aware of that choice — and notice when others have given up.
When they have chosen the Waiting Place.
Because, The Waiting Place is for no one to live in.
So, choose Being Alive. That choice will help you figure out who you are, and how you fit into the rest of this huge, crazy world.
It will teach you to always (almost) Say Yes. And Say Thank You. And Say Hi to Mom as often as you can.
It will teach you that you are one tiny person in a place that has many millions of other tiny people — who all have their own hopes and dreams and frustrations. It will teach you not to give the middle finger to that schmuck who cut you off. It will teach you that this place does not revolve around you.
Being Alive will teach you that Others do not dictate what success means. “Success” is yours. You do not deserve to run on a never-ending hamster wheel. You can Quit, because you chose You.
And finally, Being Alive will teach you that you can almost never choose. Life does not work in neat little to-do lists. It works in Cyclones and plane delays and false starts.
So, it’s up to You.
Live a little. Travel a little. Stay in 6-bed hostel rooms with people who don’t speak the same native language for once. Forgive yourself a little (a lot) — especially when you choose that mid-day cookie. Laugh a little in honor of making a Mistake.
Mistakes are good.
Mistakes are also unavoidable. Especially, at 24.
You may choose wrong. You probably will (you definitely will). But hey, choosing wrong makes You, You. Scars and Mistakes and Do-Overs are Life. They are Being Alive.
And, when you feel like when you are choosing Right — don’t stop. Please. Even if you feel like you’re groping around in the dark. Don’t just give up. Because, you always know. Somewhere, deep down you know. It Will Be Okay.
So, make the choice.
Really, the only thing you can choose — is to Live.