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Day 83 -Shakespeare, Aunt Mary & Life Itself

I watched a movie of the same title last night (Life Itself, not Shakespeare, Aunt Mary & Life Itself)...I won’t spoil it because you should really see it. It was amazingly beautiful. It was honest, real and thought provoking.

What I came away with was a question....What if we are more than what happens to us? What if we are more than that which we survive? What if life itself is our greatest teacher instead of master? What if the whole purpose of our life is to love through it all? Even the hard times? Even the painful, gut wrenchingly sad times? Through injustice? Fear? Wrongdoing? Tragedy and Trauma?

What if all of the above is just Life Itself?

When I was younger and read all the works of Shakespeare (I took a lot of literature classes because I loved it - I know I was a dork). I was always kind of freaked out by the pending tragedy and trauma that was coming. Except MidSummer Nights Dream (a complete departure from his normal model). I loved reading good old William, but the up and coming trauma that I knew would begin to unfold about mid story was always a little hard to bear. I wondered to myself (I could not wonder out loud and be so bold as to openly judge Shakespeare!) why did all of his amazing work always have to involve such fucked up situations? Why couldn’t people just live happy lives that were not accompanied with death, betrayal and devastation?

I know now what I didn’t know then...that there is no such thing! Life has to incorporate death - one cannot exist without the other. Everything that lives must also die. Humans seem to have to betray each other. Shakespeare certainly wasn’t the first one to observe this....look at the Bible...lots of betrayal goin on there! Devastation? We live in and have always lived in a world where things are forever and eternally being destroyed and recreated. This also can’t be changed or altered. It just is.

Life itself is kind of a shitshow. We are complicated people who seem destined to fuck up a good run. We can’t help it. It is in our DNA. We are just doing what we are preprogrammed to do...make one mistake after another until we die. Pretty bleak...but I don’t think it really is. I think that this is what our lives are really all about. Loving through the fuck ups. Loving ourselves and each other through the shitstorm that seems to be required kind of like PE in high school. There is no way around it...even with a note from your mother.

Life gives us all the opportunity to move ourselves forward toward a lot of things and people. Some people are dealt horrible cards in this life. I had an aunt that lost her entire family in a car accident save herself and one sister. She was ill and had to stay home and so one sister had to stay with her. One horrific car accident later and she was an orphan. I can’t imagine how hard her life must have been from that point forward. In one evening she lost her parents and three siblings. I am sure she lost where she was living, her sense of security and the ability to ever allow a loved one to get into a car without panic. But you know what? She was one of the most joyful, happy and loving souls I have ever known. The tragedy did not kill her spirit or her ability to love.

She was married to a kind and loving man for 60 some years. She had a son that she loved more than anything. One Indiana winter, she was on her way to see her son play basketball (they were on their way to the state championship) when her own vehicle skidded off the road and into a ditch. Now, many people with her past would have been done for. But not Mary. Nope she climbed out of the ditch, hitchhiked to the gymnasium, cheered her son and his teammates on for hours then got a ride to the emergency room to deal with her broken wrist and other injuries. This woman was forged with steel from her early tragedy.

For Mary, life itself was full of family, love and laughter. She always laughed a lot. She was the most upbeat person I have ever known. She was also ornery. Always willing to stir the pot in a fun but controversial way. Once others took the bait, she would laugh somehow pleased with herself. She seemed to love the predictability of peoples' responses. Taking comfort in others willingness to always follow suit. She loved people and animals and her family. She was an amazing cook and baker. She had a garden that rivaled the whole foods produce department. She was a fantastic person full of life, a life that tragedy seemed to only bring more to life.

Perhaps this is what Shakespeare was trying to tell us...that no matter how grave the circumstances of your life, there is much to be celebrated when the crying and dying is over....that is if you are strong enough to not let all the fucked up shit destroy you.

We are all resilient. We are all strong. I think our one consistent mistake is that we forget that. We forget that life itself has a lot to teach us. A lot of which we will want to avoid or skip altogether. However, the pain expands us but only with our permission. Life itself opens us and moves us toward a future that is full of love. But we have to resist the natural and sometimes overwhelming urge to shut it all down. To stop. To not move forward. To resist each new day for the pain it might contain.

So I say that the Secret to Life #3 is to love life itself. To know that life itself can be our greatest teacher in how to love. And loving is what this whole deal is really all about. The choice is always and forever up to us...allow the things that happen to us to break us down or break us open. Life itself has the power to do both but only with our cooperation and participation.

Last night as I sobbed on the couch, clutching to me my daughter’s dog. I let the tears come without restraint. I felt somewhat ridiculous crying alone in my living room but at the same time I was grateful to be moved. To be touched. To be so a part of life itself that I was leveled by the movie. I loved that I was devastated by the fantastical pain that delivers us all to our knees. So grateful to be able to own my pain and my joy. I cleaned up my dinner dishes, crying throughout, feeling sad but alive and immersed in life itself. Finally.

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