I still remember the day when I discovered none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. I was laying on my brother’s vacant bed with my mother and I had just asked her why there was a large, white scar across my stomach. I had grown up with it, wondering why only I seemed to have this mark on me- this imperfection. What had happened to me?
It was in those moments that my mother told me that I was diagnosed with cancer- and I was one of the lucky ones to survive. I struggled to understand those words. I struggled to understand why I, of all people, had survived.
I still live with those questions today. I still have the scar on my stomach, and I still strive to discover why I walk this earth. I ponder those questions daily- especially…
What can I do to give back to the universe for my own life?
How can I live each day to the fullest in honor of those that didn’t get a second chance?
I found that a lot of my life has been defined by these questions. Every day I strive to be better than the person I was yesterday. Every day I attempt to be content and happy with what I have while understanding that it is perfectly okay to strive to learn and achieve more. I joined FEMA Corps to help those affected by natural disasters. I travel and seek to learn and create for those that no longer can. And while I may have a different backstory from others, these questions can be applied to everyone.
Everyone’s reason will be different, but our goal will all be the same- to live deliberately.
But what does that even mean? Well, according to dictionary.com, the definition of deliberate is…
De·lib·er·ate (adj): done consciously and intentionally
“Consciously” and “Intentionally”
These are two very different words, but they each hold a key into how to live deliberately. Let’s look at each of them.
Con·scious (adj): aware of and responding to one’s surroundings; awake.
You’re reading this post right now, which means you’re aware and awake right? Not necessarily. I want you to think of ‘awake’ in a very spiritual sense.
We all got up this morning and pulled on our clothes for the day. We all (hopefully) brushed our teeth. But what else happened? Did we hear the birds chirping outside? Were we aware of the temperature of the water? Did a ladybug scurry across our path as we stumbled down the hallway to the coffee machine? What else did we miss in our sleep-addled stupor? And even more frightening- what have we been missing every morning when we pull ourselves out of sleep? And even worse still-
What have we been missing every day because of the day-to-day monotony?
Boredom is a fog that we subject ourselves to, and ‘content’ is a lie we tell ourselves. I told myself very early in life that the last thing I wanted to do was be stuck in a life I had been told to build for myself.
Following the path of society is easy. You go to school and get good grades. After four to six years at a university, you’re crippled by debt that you’ll be paying off for the next half of your life at the job that probably has nothing to do with the major you got in college anyway. But you need that job. Because now, you need to start paying mortgage bills and utility bills and health insurance and start building your 401K. Eventually, you’re gonna find someone you love, and dating is going to feel like you’re flying. The world is going to look more colorful and your smile is going to rival the sun. So you decide to get married, have a few kids, and a few years later you’re going to be even more in debt from sending them to school. And suddenly you look out the window and you realized the whole world changed around you and your body is old and still, you’re rushing around because you have to make a department party for some guy named, Ed that you don’t even know- even though apparently he’s retiring after forty years. (That’s what the party is for).
Remember when you were in love? The world’s colors held a vibrancy that resonated with you deep down and the rain was playful instead of melancholy. Chances are you might have seen that ladybug scurrying across your floor, or noticed when the cat rubbed against your leg. But that’s just it. Those things happen whether you are aware of it or not, but when you *do notice the small things- that’s living consciously.
Don’t get caught up in the haze of the day to day, and be able to recognize that you’re not taking the moment to appreciate the little things. That ladybug you keep seeing everywhere- is beautiful. How can nature be the creator of something so deep a red and artful? That well water running over the bristles of your toothbrush- has been recycled naturally for millions of years. The ground beneath your feet- allows you to be in contact with the thousands of people around the world who are also standing on the same earth you are.
But by the same token, don’t let yourself get so caught up in the little things that you can’t see the whole picture. I know it just sounded like I contradicted myself but hear me out. Only you saw that ladybug scurrying across the floor with your perspective. Experiencing rain is going to be different for you than someone else, even if they’re standing right next to you in the same rainstorm. You had that moment in your own mind and awareness- and no one can take those moments away from you. You were conscious of those things happening- and you were aware of your participation in it, no matter how small.
Being able to consciously recognize and appreciate the small things in life isn’t enough though. We also need to consider our purpose for realizing these things in our own lives.
In·ten·tion (n): intent, purpose, design, aim, end, object, objective, goal mean what one intends to accomplish or attain
I write poetry. That is one of my biggest passions in life, has been for years, and will be for a very long time. Writing is my art of choice. Ink is the media I require to express myself in a way that other people can understand. That’s the reason I’m writing this post right now and that’s the reason I have ten’s of notebooks all with various verses and lines scratched into them at every which way.
Writing gives me joy.
But I abandoned it when society’s voice became louder than my own. I went to school for criminal justice and political science; two subjects I found incredibly interesting, but neither I really cared about. I dropped out after two years, joined a program that would allow me to help people and travel- and started writing again.
It’s been a long journey for me to discover what I wanted to do. I knew the 9-5 job life wasn’t for me, but I also knew without a degree there was only so much I could do right? Wrong.
As kids, we grow up being told that we can do and be anything we want to be in life. It isn’t until we get into middle school and high school that those words start getting retracted. Suddenly, ‘you can be anything’, turns into ‘I’m sorry hunny, we can’t afford med school’. Or ‘live the life you’ve always wanted’ becomes, ‘well, you’re not going to be able to support yourself without a real job’. And it’s bullshit. I feel so sad for the people who are still believing that crap.
The fact is, you can do anything you want to do. You will have to work your butt off for it, but it will be easier to swallow than getting to your 60’s and realizing you’ve never done anything that you’re truly passionate about.
Find your passion. Discover your values; and grab onto it. Lasso a piece of rope around your own personal moon, and each and every day- give that rope a yank. Live each day knowing you’re getting closer to where you want to be and what you want to be doing, and don’t let go for anything. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted from what you really want. Don’t be a toddler that lets go of their balloon when they see a candy wrapper.
Ask yourself what it is you need to be happy, and then go get it. Period.
My Prayer for You
Live each day with purpose and beauty. The sun still shines behind the clouds and the morning always comes- albeit slowly. Get stuck on one beautiful thing each day, and strive to be better than you were yesterday. No one is perfect, and we all can’t always see the beauty of the world- but we can all try.
If we take each day just as it comes, with the ladybugs and the rain, and strive to turn all of our breaths into steps toward the future we’ve always dreamed for ourselves, we are heading in the right direction.
We all have the capability to be happy.
We all have the power to achieve our goals.
We can all learn to live each day as deliberately as we possibly can.