I meant to write this on my birthday, September 11. But I spent the day with my family.
Which is the way it should be.
And by waiting a day or two to post, I found that same ol’ three-of-a-kind thread thing goin’ again…. (I mean, sometimes an idea I’m mulling shows up in two or three or four variations in my life, which means I have to deal with it/write about it/ponder it.
I always think about THE 9/11 on my birthday, of course. Not because 9/11 makes me special–terrible things always happen on someone’s birthday.
But when something awful does happens on your birthday, I think it’s natural to think about your birthday in a different way.
I usually I keep my thoughts on that day to myself. I don’t want to sound glib about all those people dying so I can have little “aha!” moments at their expense.
This year, I did want to say something. And I wasn’t sure I could say it in a way that would sound right. So I waited.
Then yesterday I found this lovely article on a friend’s refrigerator. That was the second thread.
And today, once again, I found out that someone who seems to be making my life a little harder, is actually struggling with the same circumstances themselves. Proving once again that when someone says “it’s about YOU”, it’s usually about THEM. (And I say this with compassion today, because I get that sometimes they’re hoping you will figure out what to do about it, so you can teach them.)
So sometimes someone who’s giving you grief has their own bugbears that have nothing to do with you personally. This is the third thread, which ties in so nicely with that second one.
And so all three threads come together.
Because the first thread–what I wanted to say this year on 9/11–is that life….goes on.
Life goes on, even when innocent people die in an unfair attack. Life goes on, even when terrible things happen to us.
Life goes on, even when beautiful things happen to us. I look at my tall, handsome, silent teenage son, and wish I could have one week of his sweet childhood back (and knowing what I know now.) Oh, I would hug him, and do whatever it took to hear his beautiful, bubbling laughter again. I look at our dog, halfway to adulthood, and marvel that only a few months ago, he was small enough to carry in one hand. We want to hold on to the beautiful times, wishing, hoping life will pause, that time will stop. We swear we will never forget.
But life goes on. And we do forget.
Life goes on, whether we are brave enough to apply to art school, ask for that job, introduce ourselves to that lovely person across the room, join that tae kwon do class, learn to ride, climb, drive, sing….or not.
Life goes on, whether we stand up for something, or whether we remain silent.
Life goes on, whether whether we do the right thing…or not.
Life goes on, whether we have the courage of our convictions…or not.
For better or worse, for richer or poorer, we get our chance and take it (or don’t) and life goes on.
We have our turn, to be here, to do the good work that is within our grasp, to love the people that are in our care, to take care of the issues in our path. We are given that turn, every day, and the next, and the next.
And then our turn is over.
We know….WE KNOW….the good that is in us, the art that is in us, the music that is in us, the love that is in us.
And we also know so very well the fears, the resentments, the anger, the hurts, the weaknesses we carry, that hold us back.
That’s why Mother Theresa/Dr. Keith’s words resonate in my heart this weekend.
Ten thousand years ago, someone, somebody painted hauntingly beautiful images of horses, bulls and deer on a cave wall in what is now France. We know almost nothing about them, except that they must have had a compelling reason to do that. We only know they were people like us, who had their turn. And then they were gone. All that’s left (and we are lucky to have that) are the paintings.
Hard as it is to imagine, thousands of years from now, we’ll be fortunate if a handful of names–Charlemagne, Confucius, Mozart, Einstein–and hopefully more of those will be names of WOMEN!!–survive as anything more than a hero’s tale, a mythical creature. Maybe we leave a bigger footprint in the sands of time now. But maybe not.
So do it.
Be kind. Love. Do good. Forgive. Make stuff.
Just do it. Just do it anyway, no matter what. If it’s important to you, if you know it’s the right thing to do, just do it.
When you have a teensy glimpse, as I did this year on September 11, the tiniest little glimpse, that what matters is not how we love, or what we love, but that we love…..
That it’s not how good our making/singing/dancing/loving/caring is, but that we do it….
Because yes, there will always be someone to criticize it, to judge it, to sneer at it, to make fun of it (and sometimes that someone is me, I’m ashamed to say. Oh, I am merciless about bad singers. Move over, Simon Cowell.)
But you must do it anyway….because yes, it matters…
Then suddenly, and for a moment, it doesn’t seem so very hard after all.
p.s. Yes, I know today’s column is a lit-tle incoherent. But hey, it was my birthday! :^)