I sit now before two expansive windows that stretch from ceiling to floor. The morning sun is beginning to trickle through, dancing between spring’s sprouting tree limbs on this New England morning.
This rhythmic music pulses lightly upon my ears. My mind quiets. And my face begins to lose all expression.
Today the message is clear and simple: friend, let your flag unfurl.
Let go of that knotted mess you palm between your hands, covered in soil and twigs for how often you’ve let it drop to the ground, only to fret and pick it up again. That knotted mess is the desperate ego-plea to Know: the childish whims we grow into believing that claim that there is one solitary path to be walked — the “right” one — and many other paths that we must desperately avoid — the “wrong” ones.
The ground beneath your feet is all you ever need. The path you seek is what you already stand upon.
On a flight from Los Angeles to Boston on a Monday afternoon, it all came rushing back.
The subtle, nerve-stricken shake in each hand. Short breath. The sudden swell of tears to your eyes that you can barely bite back. Like nothing else matters. Fear. Panic. Confusion.
I was sitting on that flight from Los Angeles to Boston and watching Argo on demand when I heard a passenger two rows in front say, “Something serious is happening on the ground.”
He walked back a few rows to another passenger on the aisle behind me, hunched over his seat, and began to watch his television with him. “Turn on Channel 4,” he said. A New York City news channel.
Back to my own console I switched off from the dramatic reenactment of the Iranian hostage crisis — an event that sparked one of the bigger culture clashes in the last thirty-some years — to see another unfolding presently: the Boston Marathon bombing.
“Hypothetically…” I began to say, which, coming from me, is generally never a good sign, “Let’s just say that a car reaches the top of Haleakala with a gas meter that reads, EMPTY… what would the U.S. Parks Service recommend to those drivers, hypothetically?”
By now, you probably guessed it.
This was as un-hypothetical a situation as my “hypothetically cracked tooth” that I suffered a few weeks ago. It happened to Jacob and me last Wednesday as we embarked on a 4:30 AM drive up to the top of 10,032-foot Haleakala crater or the “House of the Sun,” a massive volcano that forms more than 75 percent of the island of Maui, to see the sun rise over the clouds.
We realized that we were running out of gas about halfway up the mountain.
And all this begs a very important and honest question:
What happens when the journey downright feels like shit, or makes you tense and nervous and undeniably anxious, or throws you for a complete loop?
You deserve to feel the artistry in everything you do.
You deserve to experience the hum of passion that courses in your veins when locked in a conversation with a total stranger.
You deserve to encounter the guttural vibration of anticipation when your eyes lock upon another’s — for the very first time.
You damn well ought to feel the exhilarating breath of sea-swept air that drops in from the blue sky upon a magnificent, new landscape — one that you’ll never see again, because other landscapes are awaiting you.
When I talk of artistry, I’m talking about how you deserve to live.
Artfully. Feeling God in every moment. Flowing in experience after experience. Touching the brilliance and beauty that life has to offer– now.
Is it an ideal? Surely.
But unrealistic? Why should it be?
Life doesn’t wait for anyone. And your actions, thoughts, words and decisions won’t suddenly start honoring exactly what you want and need and dream of until you begin to honor them, today — finding the space, the time, a moment, a chance, a break in the clouds or a smile across the crowd to take a risk, to dare, and to let go of whatever comes of it.
“I dreamed a thousand paths; I woke and walked my own.” ~Chinese proverb
Time was, I woke in the morning with dread in my heart. I fell asleep that night depleted and defeated; worn and desperate for the space within my head to be cleared of those invasive thoughts and where, in slumber, my imagination could run free and dream.
A slow fade, the daze… A flash.
And awaking once more.
I couldn’t do it for very long. I knew I’d never last. I knew I’d waste away into nothing living that lifestyle that drained me so heartily of any ounce of purpose or meaning.
And the honest truth is that I could afford to escape it. I had the privilege. The comfort and the opportunity. I’m not a champion or a survivor. I’m not an example or a leader for having left a lifestyle that I grew to loathe. The truth is that I didn’t need to suffer in that state of depression and unhappiness, devoid of the soulful longing that demanded I stand up, that I be me, that I put pen to paper, and experience where life’s journey wished to take me.