Flannery O Connor once said something along the lines of “the hardest part of writing is the sitting down and starting.” I like to think that Flannery wasn’t just talking about the hurdles she had to jump over to produce some of her great stories. I like to think that she was talking about life, too. Well, that’s what I’m talking about, anyway…
Fill in the blank. Life is too short to _____.
Over the past few days, I’ve been able to have some throughly enjoyable conversations with friends and family that I haven’t seen in a while. I really do love talking to people that mean the world to me. I was talking with my mom not too long ago and I asked her a question, something about when she was younger. As she paused to answer, she tilted her head to the side and her eyes looked like they were playing through memories of her teenage years–she was trying to pick the right one to talk about. In that moment all I wanted was to jump inside her head and see what she was seeing. I was getting frustrated and excited at the same time. I had to remind myself to make sure my face was engaged so my mom wouldn’t think I wasn’t paying attention to her, because I was. I was just so curious about what her eyes were seeing that I wasn’t. I’d never really talked to my mom like this before, it was great.
A few days later, I was visiting one of my favorite people in the town where we met. We were driving down open roads and passing trees green enough to make you forget that winter exists. Per usual, music we both loved was screaming through the speakers. The car was thick with melodies, orchestration, and our occasional added harmonies. I felt…weightless. (I know, I know…how cheesy, right? But I genuinely don’t know how else to explain it.) I really wish I could buy that feeling in a bottle at Walmart and take a sip whenever I felt sad or lonely, I wish everyone could.
I bring up these two moments because while I was so enjoying what I was experiencing, I found myself overthinking them, going in and out of really being in them. I love and hate when this happens. Sometimes when I analyze a moment I’m experiencing, I smile because it’s like I’m reading a book or watching a movie about my life. Other times, I get frustrated because I feel silly for feeling that sort of stupid happy to be talking to my mom or listening to music with my best friend, as if these moments aren’t real or something. But they are. They are real and I can soak them up. I don’t have to make them real by making sure that I participate in the fullness of them or lessen their importance by over analyzing them.
Because life is too short. Life is too short not to have fun and scream your favorite song with your best friend as you drive around in the middle of the day. Life is too short not too learn from your parents. Life is too short not to ask questions. Life is too short not to soak up the moments that make you feel happy you’re alive and that make you want to sit and smile and be thankful to have a heart that beats. It’s not that I suddenly realized that I haven’t been living my life or anything, it’s just that I want to remember to keep starting to live my life. I don’t want to forget the beginning, the difficulty in standing up when you’re down and how amazing it can feel once you’re up.
This past spring semester, a lot of people near me have passed away. It was weird and awful and somewhat dumbfounding. My frequent thought was, “Really? again?!” It felt like it all was happening back to back to back. These deaths were a lot to handle and I think the sadness I felt made a home somewhere in my heart. It was a sadness that was not without hope, but it was deep nonetheless. It wrote unfinished sentences all over me, a series of ellipses that had no conclusion. I think I’ve been longing for something good. I’ve been wanting a tangible experience of such joy that reminded me of God’s goodness. That everything is going to be okay, that I’m going to be okay. The conversation with my mom and the drive with my friend reminded me of that. I can accept the good with the bad and not worry it away. I don’t have to overthink every moment I’m in, I can just be in the moment. But it’s hard, to remember that, ya know? Flannery was on to something, the hardest part really does seem to be the act of starting, doesn’t it? However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Life is too short not to.
I by no means have mastered this, obviously, but if anyone else can relate to how I feel, even just a little bit, know that you’re not alone.
Thank You for Your character of goodness. I love You and ask that you help me to live with a heart full of love and not of fear.]