For the same reason I eschew horror flicks, dystopian fiction and I are typically not found in the same head space. As beautiful as life is, it is dystopian or alternatively frightening enough. But a clearly-brilliant intern suggested a book to me, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel; his thoughtful description and the cover art had me hooked and so I began to read. In it, a quote from one of the endless Star Trek franchises stuck with me so much I (like every other goofy high school kid) wrote it in permanent Sharpie on my hand, “survival is insufficient.”
As for the book, I recommend its weave of classic literature, current cultural themes and a prose that tastes like the best red wines infused with a familiar yet exotic flavor…hibiscus? Jasmine maybe?
Survival is insufficient.
In a rare quiet Friday of a welcome home to Katie and then my own snuggly nest, I have thought about the insufficiency of merely surviving this short life.
No matter how much running, botox, swimming, make up, prayer, meditation, community-building, friends, sorrow, joy and applause we may pursue and experience in this brief whisper of living, we will not survive it. Even cryogenic wizardry will not keep us alive and vibrant ad infinitum. Phew.
So we have a short window of time, a kite’s flight of opportunity to live, forgive, love, forfeit our madnesses and do more than survive on this clump of clay and sweat.
After reading Team of Rivals again, I am struck by how many names I did not recognize of famous powerful people who ruled their tiny American fiefdoms so long ago. This has whispered a warning to me to be wary of the pursuit of fame and applause, of being “the” expert and of climbing over others to grasp what seems like a brass ring, silver bullet…one shot at happiness.
This latest read has come in a time of unexpected joyful adventure. Just writing this has my eyes welling again. A time of healthy kids-now-adults, friends who’s faces should appear in the dictionary under “friends” and “peeps”; a breathable margin of budget and expenses, learning, climbing, playing, living and feeling the strength of another’s hands close around mine in a sweetness that cannot yet be explained.
I want to live and invite others to live whatever best life serves them and their families – their communities for the long haul.
Scientists, singers, sashaying merry-makers, pray-ers, scouts, teachers (love them so), listeners, learners, curious people and thinkers-who-inspire-and act: these are the people who learn to live their lives (I hope.) Those who lift the heads and hands of others, who feed the hungry in schools and savanna’s far from this little Hobbit House. Shelter-givers.
The excited and disappointed. The beautiful and unseen. The broken and broken healers…because we’re all a little dinged by living.
Come in and know life better, man. Sing your sorrowful songs and let the music cause you to weep with joy. Feel the feels without apology.
Stumble. Fall. Rise again and again.
Live your life as it is meant to be.
Read quietly by the fire or the pool or sleeping form stealing the covers. Travel, roam, love and giggle. Let the milk flow from your nose. Cheer the team. Cheer for the rivals. Be kind. Burn the bread and try again.
Let life fill you. Then pour a little into the folks around you. You may find in the pouring and sharing of your good life are the greatest treasures, lessons and loves of your brief kite-flying life.
Feel the lonely and isolation. Let it and the revelation of joy wash over you. And then wake up and walk again.
Don’t give up. Ask for help. Ask again.
Sleepwalking through life is one of the few real failures.
You have so many options to live. Yes you. So. Many. Options.
Be brave. Go live.
Survival is insufficient.