August 29, 2016

How to (Really) Live.


“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” ~ Joseph Campbell


Isn’t that what we’re doing everyday—being alive?

Maybe. Or maybe not.

When I remember myself as a young adult, I recall a person who was happy, passionate and engaged in life. Over time, that young girl disappeared. By the time I reached 40, the things that were once important to me—art, theater, philosophy and writing—held no place in my career-driven world. And in this void, an undercurrent of unease had settled in my soul.

This was it.

My life.

And I wasn’t really living it.

Then a friend self-published a children’s book. I helped her with a school presentation and felt a spark of something—a bud of hope.

Witnessing my friend follow her dream became my wake-up call. Sometimes we need someone to nudge us off the hill, to show us the way, to lead us down the path. It’s important to find that person—and then be that person for someone else.

So, I sat down and started writing and writing.

Six years later, I have an MFA in Creative Writing, a literary agent, a novel on submission and a weekly blog.

I am experiencing life. Taking risks. Feeling the thrill of victory and the pain of rejection.

But the writing business is hard—and breaking in is even harder. It can wear a person down.

My mom says I can never give up. My husband insists that I persevere.

When I think about it, maybe they’re right.

Someone has to create beauty.

Why not me?

Why not you?

If every person who had an idea, a poem, a play or a painting hid her labors, there’d be no art in the world. It would be a bland place.

I’ve realized part of being a writer is having a reader. A great response on a blog post makes my week. A poor one puts me in a grumpy mood. When someone comments on one of my articles, gives it a “like” on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter, or sends me a private message, I think: Okay, maybe I’m not nuts. Maybe I do have something worthwhile to say.

So is that why I’m doing this? To get a Facebook like?

Yes and no.

There’s more.

One of my favorite recent books is Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. It’s a beautiful coming of age coming-of-age tale about girl living in a future where the Earth’s rotation has gone out of whack. The days are longer—as are the nights. Everything starts to die, but life goes on, too. At one point, the girl and the boy she loves come across a sidewalk of wet concrete. They carve a message into the pavement. But the reader doesn’t know what they write until the last line of the book:

We dipped our fingers in the wet cement, and we wrote the truest, simplest things we knew—our names, the date and these words: We were here.

My blog and my novel are my wet concrete. Each week, I leave a little of myself on the sidewalk: this is what my life was like, and my family’s life too. Maybe thousands of years from now, cyber anthropologists, picking through the remnants of the World Wide Web, will find my humble blog, and in turn, understand a little about our time.

They loved their kids.

They worried about their weight.

They made chicken for dinner.

They were lovers.

But even in the midst of everyday life, they still attempted to create.

Those futuristic scientists will recognize the same strand of humanity in me that they feel in themselves. It will be a thread connecting us in time and space—a sliver of immortality. Maybe, through my weekly scribblings, we’ll be linked in human consciousness, in our collective unresolved need to make sense of why we’re here—to experience being alive.

Yup, you might think I’m crazy. And that’s okay. Writing feels good.

When things aren’t going quite right, and it seems like I’m writing in vain, I remind myself why I’m doing this:

Because I was here.

On Earth.

For a short time.

And I was trying to make my life count.

To put my drop in the bucket of what it means to be human.

How about you? What makes you truly experience being alive?

Keep looking.

You might find the meaning of your life too.


Author: Heather Christie

Image: Pexels

Editor: Toby Israel


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