Happiness in Defeat?
I am not a TV watcher. In fact, I don’t even have cable. And I don’t really ever watch TV. The one sits idle in the living room unless my teenagers have friends over and turn it on, which also almost never happens...
So I get all things entertainment and the limited news that slips into my life via my computer. I watch about fifteen minutes of Netflix before I go to bed some nights but am on my computer all day for work. This is the only way that I know what is even happening outside of Ojai. I know that makes me somewhat disinformed but I like it that way...In fact, I insist on it being that way.
I do get the New York Times digest every morning in my email and I peruse it sometimes. This morning I was dismayed and somewhat terrified about the Russians not declaring, but declaring war on the Ukraine. Really? After all that has happened in the last two years, we are going to have war on top of it, led by an unstable ego maniac. I will not further comment except to say that I have begun praying for all of humanity...again, still.
But today I do not want to talk about the evils of our world, the misguided and demented personalities that seem hell bent on mass destruction of life as we know it. No, today belongs to Nightbirde.
Now I have watched America’s Got Talent (AGT) exactly no times. I wouldn’t have even known about this young woman if it were not for Facebook. I would have missed an opportunity to be touched and uplifted had I not taken the time to watch her performance on this show.
Ten minutes later I sat sobbing at my desk...
This young woman, a beautiful woman, who was dying of cancer, made her way from Ohio to California all to get a chance to sing on AGT. She came alone and she left alone. Which makes me even more sad. Not for her, but for us. I am constantly amazed at how the brightest lights sometimes are not seen by us, are not appreciated for their warmth and are turned off way too soon.
Now she was an incredible singer. No doubt. She sang an original song...”It’s Ok” about her 2% fight against cancer. You knew as she talked that she knew she was going to die but instead of focusing on that, she focused on her 2% chance of survival and then did something incredible with that chance. She got herself into a position where she could share herself and her life, her abundant life force with the rest of us. And I know that I am better for it.
And sometimes life is just like that, you are just mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and you are rocketed into a deeper understanding about life and love and heart and grit. All while you sit there, likely wasting the life you are given to spend so recklessly.
There she was, rail thin, belting out her song about her life, giving it to all of us as she struggled to stay present with us. She lost that battle this week but not until she worked hard to share the light that one could not help but notice with the world, well at least the televised world.
And she touched me. She made me care. She made me believe in something again that I lose sight of daily. That we all just have this one life, and it is fleeting. Dammit Nightbirde, you are making me cry even as I write this! Thank you! Because I have come to know that if I am crying, I am really living.
So even as she stood on that stage actively dying, she made a difference. She wanted to show the world that you are more than the bad things that happen to you. That, always, you have a choice about how you take the life you are given and make it your own.
I am not sure if I was a few months away from death that I would put forth the effort to get on AGT. I mean, really, that would be dumb since I do not have talent like that at all. But it made me think that she took to heart that her life was her own and they were her dreams so long as she was still with us and she was going to give it her all. And she did. She belted out her swan song and gave it to all of us. And I am not sure about the rest of you, but it left me wanting more. She left me with a curiosity about her, about life, about death, about what dreams live in the hearts and minds of people. About what choices one has in this life. And how much courage, grit and determination it takes to live your authentic life.
And as I sat weeping at my desk, and as I sit crying as I write this, I know that she knew this...
That life is not always going to cut your way, and that is something that you can allow to warp you, harden you. Or you can use everything that happens to you in this life to wake you up to truly living each moment and she reminded me that there is nothing ever that does that quite like the closeness of death.
There she was happy, present and singing while she actively lost the fight against cancer. She took the time and effort to share with us her, her life, her gift and her peaceful and loving soul.
I have resisted the urge to learn more about her because for me, I want her to exist only in her purest form, there on stage, singing her heart out with hope, telling us all that it is ok, even if you hate the things your life brings to bear. It is ok, to have cancer. It is ok to fight anyway. And it is ok, ultimately to lose. Because death is part of living. It is a destiny that we all must face and it cannot be avoided. And as much as she wanted to live in that 2%, she knew, you could see it in her eyes that while she hoped for that miracle, she was in fact, ok with her destiny. In fact, she was so ok with it that she dared to hope, dared to dream and gave us all the gift of her brilliant spirit as it faded from view.
I have seen people with a 2% change of survival, I have seen how sick they are. I have seen how much cancer wrecks their bodies, the “cure” almost worst than the disease. But in spite of all of that, she fought not only cancer but her own fatigue and defeat and chose to rise anyway.
The audience gave her a standing ovation. Simon gave her a golden ticket (I have no idea what that means but I am pretty sure with all the golden confetti it was a good thing). But she gave us something much more precious. She gave us a life giving reminder that life is fleeting. Good things happen, bad things happen and we are more than both those things. She reminded me that there is just this one life that I am sure of and that it isn’t about acquiring wealth, that is really an almost meaningless pursuit. It isn’t really even about health because none of us, no matter how much we do everything we can to cheat death, can ever get out of this life alive.
Nightbirde reminded me that a good life is lived with a can do attitude that is happy in the face of defeat because I mean why the fuck not? There is limited time left, you might as well spend it being happy.
“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy...” Nightbirde
Agreed Nightbirde, agreed. But you were one of the rare ones, one who left the comfort and safety of whatever life you were living and made the great effort, and I am sure sacrifice, to use what was left of your life to remind us that life is hard but we can be happy anyway. That life is good even when it is bad. That the things that happen to us, happen for us. And if you are really fucking brave you will use whatever moments you have left to step out into the spotlight and sing.
Well done. Thank you for your brilliance, your song and your light. I am humbled and changed because of your efforts. Thank you.