There are two things I’ve learned and now believe beyond any shadow of a doubt.
First–happiness–if it exists at all, and certainly any sense of inner peace, lies in knowing your true self and following your dreams. Otherwise, you are doomed to carry an ever-present, gnawing resentment and insidious rage, lurking to undermine every aspect of your life.
Trust me on this. Hell exists not in the afterlife but in the present for those who, chained by doubt, fear or circumstance, knowingly live with unfulfilled dreams.
The second is Tomorrow Never Knows. It cares not at all for our plans, hopes or wishes. We give this truth a passing acknowledgement in times of illness and death, vowing to pay more heed to the eggshell fragility of life and stay in touch with friends more, hug our kids more, share our secrets more, be vulnerable and kind and giving and say “I love you” more often. To finally, once and for all, make an effort to unleash our longings and wait not one moment longer to spring our aspirations – big or small – from the dark closet of our secret yearnings. To draw, to paint, to sing, to learn to play piano or make the perfect souffle’, to swing dance like our parents, climb a mountain, skydive, to master chess. Any or all of them and more. Yet time and again, regardless of our heartfelt resolutions, the days pass, routines return, responsibilities take over. Time slips away. Years disappear. Dreams fade.
In one small span of time a few years ago, I lost a very close friend to lung cancer, watched my sister battle breast cancer and then almost to the day she finished her post-surgery radiation treatments, her husband was diagnosed with prostrate cancer. Both are survivors but it was a frightening two years.
All compounded by my father’s decline into the depths of Alzheimer’s which instigated some very deep introspection on my part resulting in facing some hard truths.
I was not happy. Not in my work. Not in my home. Not in my life. The thought had begun to haunt me about my father’s situation – the heart surgery, the stroke, the advance of Alzheimer’s. How he and my mother were being robbed of their life-long planned Golden Years Spent In Happy Retirement American Dream by this insidious disease and the bank account robbing health care costs. How his mind was vanishing along with their life savings.
I couldn’t stop thinking about my own mortality, surmising that genetics just might win out and I was looking at my own future in their present. Or that, given the statistics, it would be just a matter of time before cancer found me. That if my own health should fail and I’d never given my dream to write and return to an artist’s life while I’d spent the last 20 or so years as a marketing executive trying to convince musicians to buy another fucking piece of gear, I knew I’d die a very, very angry man.
And I was tired of living as a very, very angry man.
The dream demanded more attention, more respect, more effort. More love.
So I woke one morning with the decision made to finally and forever embrace a lifestyle true to the idea that Tomorrow Never Knows.
That I would spend my days seeking kindred spirits given to the belief that life is short and best spent filled with memorable moments shared by friends and family.
“Life’s short. Live well. Live now.”