29 September 2013

Being Alive

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” ~ Mary Jean Iron

A friend of mine posted this prayer of sorts on Facebook today and it really struck me. There’s such a difference between living and being alive. While I was at the beach for two weeks earlier this month, I felt alive and I felt in communion with nature. Since I’ve been back in Los Angeles, the old stresses have returned and I have worked at a daunting pace. (As anyone who freelances knows, this is a blessing and I feel grateful, but at the same time, it’s exhausting to churn from deadline to deadline).

I’ve been aware of the lack of joy in my life this week and it has only been exacerbated by the reminder that while I was at the beach, a tremendous number of my friends’ parents died. I’m at the age where these deaths aren’t uncommon, but they were happening at a startling pace over the past few weeks. 

Additionally, today brought news of the death of a music executive I had known during my Billboard tenure. She had seemed so strong and so indomitable when she headed up a number of labels that the fact that death somehow beat her at a relatively early age doesn’t seem possible and is shocking. My Facebook page has been filled with remembrances by people who worked for her and with her and they’ve only served to make me sad that I didn’t know her better. To the person, those who worked closely with her have mentioned what they learned from her. What a wonderful legacy.  She will live on in all those people every time they use something she taught them. 

Her passing, and all these passings, are just reminders that our time here is short and we don’t know when our time ends. When I was younger, the story about how no one will ever have “I wish I’d worked more” on their tombstone used to bother me because I have been one of the lucky ones: I’ve always loved what I’ve done for a living and feel so unbelievably blessed that I have been able to pay my keep by doing something that gives me, on most days, a tremendous amount of pleasure and enjoyment. Yet, as I get older, I find myself increasingly aware that the sand is passing through the hourglass. Statistically, I should have several decades left, but as many of these recent deaths have shown, that’s not guaranteed, and today was a reminder of that. 

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  1. How do we learn to say no to really good clients is a question I ask quite a bit. When I'm overwhelmed, I become pretty miserable. When I have a nice, steady flow of work, my outlook is much better. After 25 years, I still haven't solved the mystery to that question. Maybe we just do it.

  2. Finding that balance seems so difficult, if I live in fear.