Breathe. Just breathe.
Sometimes this is easier said than done. Sometimes it feels like each breath is an act of sheer will that may crumble into a spasm of tears despite your very best efforts.
BE strong. Chin up buttercup. YOU can DO this. You can hold your fraying self together in a presentable public package that says “I have it all together. My life is picture-perfect Facebook and Instagram ready at any moment.”
This is a lie. Plain and simple.
Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Your life is more than a filtered iPhone photo moment in time illusion. Your precious existence is more important than a stiff upper lip. Much more.
We are, all of us, multi-dimensional flesh-and-blood-and-bone messes. I am a cracked pot, a broken bowl of quivering, quaking, quantized humanity. So are you. We are fallen, fragile, frayed, and fallible.
We are also the stuff of stars. We are dust and dirt, light and laughter, pain and sorrow, joy and hope.
And all of that is truly impossible to hold together 24/7. Yet for some reason, a lot of us keep on trying (and buying and consuming and falling short of the incredibly high bar we set for ourselves). Here’s the thing:
No one gets out of this life unscathed.
Your public face, you know, the one you want the world to see and believe is incredibly fragile. Its smoke and mirrors image is possible only through the careful application of mental duct tape and emotional Band-aids artfully applied to keep the real you from seeing the light of day.
The truth of the matter is that life is hard–especially when one tries to go it alone and keep all the plates spinning, the balls in the air, and the “perfecto-meter” in high gear. Holding our human mess together is a fragile fine art.
Want to master it? Sure you do. So do I. So do all of us if we are honest.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all handy-dandy recipe for instant life success. The technique is learned only in the living. Here are a few things I’ve learned from my multiple attempts at getting life right. The list is by no means exhaustive, and what works for me may not work for you at all. Heck, it doesn’t even work for me 100% of the time. We are works in progress, people in process, and dearly beloved by the Creator of the Cosmos. So here goes. Feel free to use what you can.
- Quit trying so hard. You do not have to impress anybody. Your job is to live this one precious life and be who you are created to be.
- Life works better in community. This means you need to find a diverse group of folks to walk alongside you on this crazy journey. The old saying “there’s safety in numbers and more fun, too” has a real ring of truth to it.
- Be vulnerable. Yep. You heard me right. Let down your guard. You will get hurt. Perhaps often. You will hurt others because you are human. But the alternative sucks. Crafting a protective shell around yourself adds unnecessary weight and prevents you from fully enjoying all that life has to offer–both the highs and the lows.
- Be generous. Life is more about giving and sharing than getting. You don’t get to take ANYTHING with you when you leave. Most likely people won’t really want the stuff you leave behind, so save them the trouble and travel light NOW.
- Take risks. This is the only way you will grow (refer to #3 again). Don’t be stupid, but know that safety and certainty are highly overrated.
- Don’t work solely for the money. Passion and joy should be an important part of your compensation package. If you are working only for the money, it will never be enough. You will always need (translate want) more.
- Travel. See the world. Meet people. Expand your horizons and value experiences over possessions. Oh, and be sure to travel light (refer to #4 again). You don’t need as much as you may think you do.
Remember: Life is short. Make the most of it. Quit worrying about perfection and appearances. Be real. Ditch the duct tape and Band-aids. If you fall apart, then pick yourself up and try again. Then you’ll be able to breathe. Well, most of the time.
Photos: vagawi and Ansel Edwards, Creative Commons. Thanks!