“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ~ Oscar Wilde
The other day, my little boy asked how we got from New York to Arizona. I told him we drove in a rented RV. He asked if he enjoyed the trip. I told him I didn’t know, since he was so little at the time, but that his brother described it as “pain, misery and McDonald’s”. I assure you, it was a most accurate description.
And this very clever metaphor got me thinking….about how we choose to travel in life: not when we don’t have a choice or know any better (my excuses for the RV trip!), but when we do have choices and know better, yet still settle for that ‘cheap RV’ and whatever other cop-out options.
With all the coaching and inspired writing about how we’re here to live (not just exist), to overcome fear, to share, to love deeply and completely, to be real, vulnerable, do amazing little and great things alone and together…and never, ever settle…
…maybe life should be dismissed as existence interrupted by the occasional interesting and meaningful experience, courtesy of choice or accident…
…and maybe, this whole ‘living-for-real’ stuff is a big illusion we reach for to escape all the “pain, misery and McDonald’s”, to bribe our discontent so that we can go on existing until the next crisis requires a band-aid.
Ok, ok, so I don’t really believe that, and neither do you, but let’s look around, shall we?
We try to surround ourselves with like-minded travelers, we make a difference in the lives of those who honestly look to learn how to live and be real.
But the rest?
Many have come to me for advice and coaching expecting a neat instant solution, a virtual alka-seltzer to cure all their problems. All that authenticity stuff sounds very good, but doing some work? No, none of that. Everything that involves honesty, accountability, effort, commitment, authenticity and yes, discomfort, is too much trouble.
“And after all, what for?” I’ve been asked…and not a few times.
It’s a question I refuse to validate with even the attempt at an answer. But it’s a question I come across too often, and it always profoundly saddens me.
Because what else is life about if not living for real? It’s certainly not about running away from what matters, but running towards it. Or even taking small steps…baby steps, leaps…anything but running away.
It’s about creating magic out of the littlest things. It’s about opening up for god’s sakes…about tenderness, about embracing all the hard work that we must do to dig ourselves out of oblivion, bad habits, coldness, illness and fear.
Yes, the whole process does get challenging…but by all the gods in all the worlds, it’s the only way! What have we got to lose?
And let’s go there just this once…”What for?…”
For everything. For ourselves and our sparkly beautiful souls. For the gift of a real smile and trust. For adventure and the privilege of sharing. For love. For contribution and being a light in someone else’s darkness. For a chance to laugh all our laughter…and dance.
As for why it’s often such a challenge, at least in the beginning?
I answered this in another post: “if you want to know what something truly means, for example the big words…: love, forgiveness, faith and hope…you have to carry them beyond the edge of everything you know and into the realm of your greatest discomfort. It’s like turning off all the lights so as to be able to see the stars.”
Sounds much better than “pain, misery and McDonald’s” doesn’t it? It is.