Some things, we just shouldn’t need reminders of.
Like falling in love. And being open for what opportunities come your way. And letting go of the past and those same ol’ stories of “I could never” or “I don’t deserve any better” that you quietly tell yourself from time to time.
There’s things like remembering that our time is short.
That life is beautiful but has these ways of throwing us curveballs and sad spots and troubling circumstances. We shouldn’t need reminders that life is filled with suffering, but just as much, that it’s filled with so much love in all the spaces between.
For me, there’s things like writing. I wonder if it’s the same for you — maybe with writing, or song, or dance, or play. Maybe you are called to paint or collect stamps, or to run for miles and miles, or to firmly hold hands with your lover as you walk through an unfamiliar city’s bustling streets, or to raise your children to be strong and true.
We shouldn’t need reminders that every waking minute is our best chance — our only opportunity. We know we shouldn’t need a boost, a nudge, a hand up, any reminder.
Why then do we wait?
Why do we pause and delay, procrastinate and hesitate, avoid and neglect?
Why, if we need no reminder — because we’re rational, logical, understanding, well-rounded folks with good hearts and true intentions — do we constantly deny that grandest dream that calls to us from a place unseen?
Why do we neglect the passion that is begging us to be touched and tasted?
We should we fear saying hello to the pretty stranger, why should we avoid setting aside a few dollars from every check for the dream trip?
Why do we say, “Tomorrow,” to the calling to type the words, “Chapter One,” today?
I know that fear is paralyzing. That uncertainty and all the unknowns in life spur on our fears, every single day and night. And I know that from that fundamental fear, we hesitate, avoid, delay, dismiss and second guess. We wait because waiting is safe. It’s sure. For time is there, always waiting for us, always on our side.
Avoiding is not only a choice, but a sure choice — a safe one that’s reinforced for every second, every minute, every year, just as it is there for us for every breath that we’re alive.
So long as we’re still alive.
And the longer we wait, the longer our choice to wait is proven a decent choice. Why? Because we’re still alive waiting, just as we had figured all along.
But that’s the ironic thing.
We won’t live forever. We might die today.
We shouldn’t need a reminder of it.
And we know that.
Some time ago, I wrote in my journal that I did not wish to taste death before first deciding to live. There seems something so tragic of that: waiting to “taste death” before we finally live.
We see it all the time in our society, though — and we greet it as inspiring, and far from tragic. It’s probably happened to a friend, a family member, a neighbor. Maybe he was stricken with cancer and has survived. Maybe she was in an accident and lost a leg. Maybe he was just a few minute away from standing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, or maybe she used to work on the 68th floor of the World Trade Center.
And when we see these men and women encounter these near misses, these tragic circumstances, these dances with their own mortality, we see that something shifts in them.
True priorities once veiled beyond a thin cloak of fear and worry that fluttered in the wind of every sweeping breath suddenly drops to the ground. And these invigorated souls then step upon it, kindly, and with a smile.
They choose to live — perhaps for the very first time. They are reborn. The passion is then pursued. It’s made real. The hobby turns into a profession, a student becomes a teacher, and the silent, shame-riddled dream is manifest into reality with such startling accuracy that they sit back only to say, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
Well, because of Fear.
And because of the illusion that we have all the time in the world, even though we know that we don’t, and even though we know that we shouldn’t need a reminder of it.
Me, I didn’t lose a limb or taste death to decide that now was the time to believe in myself, even if the world around me seemed not to (because, I’m not sure it ever did). I did my own dance with mild depression, I took some youthful heartbreaks and hard-learned lessons to heart, but I never did taste the taste of death that would seem to be the single most inspiring source for the human being to finally choose to live, live, live.
Am I lucky? Probably. Am I any different than you? No.
And maybe that’s why I bang my head against the wall to share these messages with you in writing as I do — I’m hoping you’ll stop me. That you’ll say, “I get it already, Dave!” That you’ll tell me to shut up; that you’ll stop reading my words if it means you start writing your own.
Two nights ago I had a dream. And in this dream was a ticking watch. And in this fuzzy subconscious terrain I took the watch and I said, “It is my time to write.” That watch now rests upon my left wrist– a black fish scale band with a wide white face, and masterfully-maneuvering sterling guts, and blue and pearl hands that swing upon it. Upon the face reads, “Reykjavik,” where in Iceland I am today, and where two nights ago I had a dream that reminded me:
“You don’t have all the time in the world, and you shouldn’t need a reminder of that. But just in case you do, let this watch upon your wrist remind you: your clock, dear one, is always ticking.”
I would be lying if I said to you that I was not desperate to instill some of this “mortal determination” in you.
I am desperate to do it. And it crushes me every time I encounter a wonderful soul who waits, delays, or says, “Not this time.” And the “no’s” that crush me are not the “no’s” to my business or to my writing or to me personally, but when I hear them say no to themselves.
They rationalize their dreams away.
They might well have great intentions and genuine conflicts, bona fide circumstances and roadblocks in their way — dollars are one reason, logistics are another, responsibilities another.
But where is the line that distinguishes what circumstance is a valid reason to delay, and which are just subtle bumps upon your journey that we must always, always, always endure?
It’s not that life is a race to the finish, it’s not that we must marathon to the bitter end or do everything in our power all at once — no.
But I have learned that from this space of our own mortal embrace, we begin in defiance of our judges (the worst is usually ourselves) to create liberally from the soul that bears so much love; to share so much of the message, the song, the mission that’s long called to us to live it and become it; and finally, to face the truth that states back at you in the mirror.
When we see ourselves with these new eyes for the first time, we realize that there is no time to wait to start bearing our souls to the ones who need us most in this world.
Time will, indeed, always be there for us.
It’s just that we won’t always be there for it.
Whether or not it is my hand that you feel called to take from here so that we might embark upon our journey for some time together, I ask you to please take the hand that is extended to you — whatever hand, embrace it, and start moving.
And I must now do the same, for with this simple piece some twelve-hundred words have come to pass, and the watch upon my wrist has not yet stopped ticking.