- "I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London
Friday, June 04, 2010
Family Fun Day was established when my brother and I had reached the inevitable ages when we began to pull away from our parents. One Sunday a month each of us would take turns choosing an activity for the whole family to do together. In those moments we all have of blaming our parents for creating us as we are, I like to look back upon this concept and remind myself that my mother and father tried. They really tried. While I have forgotten a majority of the activities over the years, one single moment remains with me, a single image captured and saved in the photo album of memory. It is the image of my mother on our white water rafting adventure, slipping out of the raft and floating away down the river, her lifejacket hiked up around her neck, smiling and laughing and waving at us as she drifted further and further away. It is one of my favorite images of my mother.
We were all out of our element that day in the arduous physical activity, the hot sun blaring down on us, sharing a raft with a group of strangers who undoubtedly rolled their eyes at the very sight of us stepping into the boat to join them. "We don't stand a chance" I imagined each of them thinking, and justifiably so. I can't remember which one of us had the idea to go, but I think it may have been me, always wanting to be a different kind of person living a different kind of life. I would love to be the kind of person who goes white water rafting, I most likely thought. I have these same kind of thoughts now. I would love to be the kind of person who reads a book a day, who goes on daily walks out in the world, who cooks each meal, who writes novels and poetry in her spare time, who creates something artistic and new in every moment. I would love to be the kind of person who can just pick up and travel the world, fearless and comfortable and not worrying about what should be. I would love to be the kind of person who makes things happen, who doesn't just dream of things that could be, who does all of this instead of just writes about wanting to do it. None of this is beyond reach. It is just a matter of reaching out for it, and somehow, I can never seem to extend my grasp in that direction.
I've been in a bit of a funk lately, and I'm not quite sure what it's about. The semester ended and I found myself a little lost, without the constant movement from one place to the next, the constant intellectual stimulation and email inbox full of questions and answers. I always seem to find myself in trouble when my life slows down. Too much time to think, I suppose. My list of things I would like to accomplish grows longer and the list of things I have accomplished grows shorter. I always think that I want time off from my life, but having even the slightest taste of a break from things makes me feel lazy and uncertain and terribly unproductive. I work best under deadlines. I work best when the moments of free time are rare. I work best when I understand how precious those moments are. Like most things in life, to have an abundance of it detracts from its value. I don't want to be the kind of person who wastes her time.
And it shouldn't be so difficult, to get the things I want out of life, to be the person I want to be, to live the life I long to be living. It is as simple as opening this page on my computer and typing in my thoughts. It is as easy a practice as this. Still, I have to constantly remind myself of this fact. I have to constantly reset my mind, and I wish it wasn't like that. I wish it could just be an instinctual act. I wish I spent less time hating myself for the things that I am not doing, and more time doing them. I wish that I could take the unspoken advice of my mother who, having slipped from the boat of certainty, floats on with the rushing rapids of the river of life, smiling and laughing and waving.