I'm hyperventilating this morning... experiencing the kind of frantic, angsty, jumble of longings in the pit of my soul, in the depths of my heart and mind, that I believe only a person over (close to?)40 can truly understand.
It's a sensation, a voice, that screams from a place deeper than I can pinpoint,
"I want more! I want to be more! I want to do more! I want to matter more!"
I sit here, listening,
because I have no choice. I am unable to block it out.
And, honestly, I don't want to block it out, because it motivates me.
it paralyzes me, too.
Because, the truth is, I don't know how to do that. How to be more. Or, even, for me, what that more is.
The world is filled with people who do extraordinary things. Some of those things are huge -- like inventing the iPod (iPhone, iPad), like completing an Ironman triathalon, like trying to swim from Cuba to Florida, non-stop, at age 60+, without a shark cage, over and over again...
Like inventing cures for illnesses,
travelling to war zones,
or leaving a body of brilliant work behind.
And, some of those things are quieter, more personal in their nature or impact.
Like donating an organ,
rising above a disability,
or helping a person in need.
All over the world, as I sit here and type, people are doing extraordinary things,
and I can't help but wonder how to contribute.
To make my life less ordinary.
Don't get me wrong: I feel blessed. I feel downright lucky. And I have problems I rise above, and ways that I push myself, and try to contribute to the world. Just like we all do.
But, none of it feels, what? Big enough? Important enough? Like it matters?
I have this overall feeling that I'm wasting time.
That I'm just not making the most of it.
That, the ride is spinning by, and I'm missing the big brass ring.
Part of me knows I need to learn to be okay with this.
To accept a life more ordinary.
But I feel like there's this treacherous balance, too -- to accept life for what it is and grow old gracefully (haven't got a clue how to do this yet, mind you), while not becoming complacent.
As some of you know, Diana Nyad is a personal hero of mine. At the end of that video above (shared with me by my friend, Christopher Tasava, thank you!) she poses the question, paraphrased from the poet Mary Oliver*,
"So, what is it you're doing with this wild and precious life of yours?"
I want so badly to be able to answer that.
To shout from the rooftops that I'm making it count.
That I'm contributing.
That I'm giving it all I can.
More than anything, I want that.
I want to be more.
And, I want to matter.
But sometimes, it's paralyzing.
Because, I'm not sure I even know how.
*The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?