2010 has been a bit of a landmark year. For a long time Bad Stuff has been something of an abstract concept really. I’ve never been bereaved, never had what I consider to be anything awful happen to me or mine. I am aware that ‘anything awful’ is rather an abstract concept and that what I am able to brush off and put down to experience may be what fells someone else, that said I have always felt able to take full responsibility for pretty much everything that has come my way. Own it, deal with it, move on from it.
But this year there have been events happening to people I love which I have felt utterly unable to claim responsibility for, explain away, prevent or make better. This year I have seen friends lose parents, siblings and children. I’ve seen people come to terms with fatal illness, try to package up their life and tidy up lose ends in the same way as we are doing in preparation for heading off on an adventure for a year, except that they are quite literally packing up a life to put it away forever. I have witnessed people coming to terms with truths so sad, so unfair, so far from what they expected their life to be, create new normals and deal with realisations that everything they thought to be the case was infact wrong. I have stood, hand clapped over my mouth in horror as if watching in slow motion as dramas unfold, lifes are forever altered and in a moment nothing is ever the same again.
These experiences make me cry, make me want to rage at the world, make me want to run off with everyone I love and hold dear and wrap them all up, hold them close to me and protect them from the world. But you can’t do that can you? Life is for living. We can’t effect what gets chucked at us, we can only control how we respond to it and deal with it once it’s happened. My personal belief is we are here once. We have one chance to grab life as it slips, slithering and mercurial through our fingertips. We should cherish every moment, grab every opportunity, love, laugh, learn, make it all count.
I hear too many tales of lives cut prematurely short, not completely lived, not given the chance to make all those dreams come true. I listen to old people, blessed with all that history and a long life behind them, cursed with shoulda, woulda, coulda regrets. My mantra has always been I’d rather regret the things I did do than the things I didn’t. How I can live with looking back and recalling mistakes, laughing at silly moves I made, learning from every foot I put wrong, how I couldn’t live with never having given it a go. Being scared is not reason enough not to do something. Taking risks to make us gasp is what keeps us breathing in, breathing an exhalation sigh of relief is what keeps us breathing out. Living is what keeps us alive.
Wondering Wanderers is our ‘all on the black’, but we’re keeping enough in our back pockets to shove on the red if that black choice looks a bit wonky. It’s our ‘here is what we really want, this might just be the path to lead us there’. And when we put it like that it begins to occur to us we don’t really have a choice.