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Thursday, April 15, 2004

Life in technicolor

There's a saying posted on the back of Brennan's Party Center along I-90 that (this week) reads, "To live is rare. Most people exist." I've driven by that saying every day this week and it haunts me. I don't want to simply exist. I want to live life in technicolor—breathing in its aromas, seeing its beauty, touching is wondrousness and believing that I was meant to embrace it all.

But there's a terrifying side to embracing life in such a manner. In order to really feel, to see life in all its vivid glory, you also have to open yourself up to its deeper pain. That's where I've hesitated. And that's where I've failed.

How is it that we go through life never really feeling and never really giving our all? How do we change that mentality when holding back has been so much a part of who we are? Thomas Merton said, "The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little." I fear that I've not tapped into the joy in life because I'm too afraid and too consumed with keeping all the emotion inside of me in check. And I'm discovering that that's not the way I want to live my life.

I fought so hard to be able to do what I'm doing with career today. And I think it's because I've realized how many things I've given up in the interest of not rocking the boat or doing the safe thing. As a result, I haven't been true to myself.

In college, I was going to be a foreign correspondent. I was going to see the world. That was more than 15 years ago. I don't have a passport and I've yet to see much of anything. Hell, I haven't even been to New York City! I have my beautiful family and I wouldn't trade them for anything. But I realized that I can't keep pushing my needs aside. Instead, I'd like to bring my loved ones along on my journey. I want my children to not be afraid of dreams, feeling, emotion.

My mom and I had dinner the other night after seeing the Passion. Perhaps we were both feeling a little like confessing. She shared with me some of her unfulfilled dreams and I realized she was telling me not to let go of mine. You were meant to see and do so many things, she told me.

So how did I lose all of that purpose and joy in life? How did I become mired in fear, isolation, loneliness? I think it's because I wanted stability above all else. And in the end, the path I chose was traditional, stable, honest. I don't regret that path, only that I didn't bring my inner self along for the journey.

But my inner self is emerging of late. And I think it's largely due to my reclaiming what I want out of life. My new force is both exhilarating and terrifying and aggravating. And I won't put her back into her bottle. I can't. The trance has been broken. My mom looked me in the eye and told me that she and my dad were so worried about me becoming this hardened woman, incapable of emotion and unable to feel. In the end, I realize, that is my biggest fear—to simply not feel.

And so, painful as it may seem, I'm tiptoeing into the spring of life, hoping to experience its joy and ready to accept its pain. I owe it to shower the people in my life with love. Mostly, I owe it to myself.

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