(14 April 2010, Amsterdam)
Life. I frequently engage in online conversations about how people choose to spend their lives. I don’t mean in terms of family, home, car, job. I mean in terms of taking risks, following their hearts, listening to that little voice inside. (This ranges from total rehauls of their lives to intuitive eating, by the way.) It is interesting because although many, if not most, people agree that following what feels right would be the right thing to do, only so many people do it. It seems that “life gets in the way”.
Wasn’t it John Lennon who said that “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”? Lennon was shot dead on December 8 1980 just after a three year career break to take care of his son Sean. He had just released a new album. There was of course a lot of outrage at Lennon’s death. It was murder after all and that is always a life cut short. Yet reading about his life one can hardly say that he wasted it; it was pretty full. (See for example wikipedia.) Was he just making plans or was he living them?
Somehow this connects in my mind with films like The Bucket List (2007) in which two men escape the cancer ward to check off things they want to do before they die, or ‘kick the bucket’. Heck, I even though of The Last Holiday (2006) with the ever-fabulous Queen Latifah as the heroine who decides to spend her last days on earth treating herself to some luxury. Things she wouldn’t have done had she not known she was about to die. Two works of fiction, two fairytale productions. Things don’t happen like that in real life. “Life gets in the way.” After all, we all know we are going to die, don’t we? At some point our hearts will give in or some weird cells in our boobs go berserk or a taxi driver will be speeding, making a phone call and adjusting his radio at the same time. Or we fall off our bikes, like that girl I know about when I was still in school. She was biking on the road with her family, fell on the pavement, hit the side of her head and that was that.
So does that mean she shouldn’t have biked? She was sure to be busy making other plans than falling down and dying. She should have been, she was barely a teenager. How lucky I am, or someone like me is, that I got to experience all the things that I experienced after the age that she reached. School, kisses, champagne, sex, vacations, feeling pretty, comforting other people, tasting new foods - all those things. But was her life any less full than mine because she didn't experience that? Was she any unhappier than me, just because her life ended so soon?
So I’m not saying that I feel lucky just because I was more fortunate than that girl and got to live longer, only that I am lucky at all. You see: I have possibilities. I have the luxury of being able to sit down and make a bloody bucket list, should I want to. I am in a position to look at my life and make the changes if I need to.
Even now with two kiddies on the way; two kiddies I already love with all my heart yet who will define a large part of the rest of my life. I will have responsibilities beyond anything I have ever had to care for before. But the gods know that it was very much my decision to have them. (Granted, the ‘twins’ aspect of it was a bit of a shock…) This is an experience I want to have, and I am lucky enough to have it now.
The kiddies but also every other aspect of my life are more or less the result of the realisation that I am the only one who can change anything about my life. Either that or determine my reaction to what life throws at me. Nobody will do this for me – it’s in my hands. Actually that makes me one of the luckiest people in the world, doesn’t it?
What's with the chopper?
It landed on the field in front of our building last week.
Two medics came out, only one went back in when it took off.
The other stayed in the flat nearby. I couldn't see what was happening there.
It took a long time. The policeman by the door looked very bored.