Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

Over the past several years, I've made some mistakes. Despite what I believed at the time (which can only be described as "holy shit my world is ending"), I am not, in fact, the only person in the world who has made some terrible decisions that altered the path that she was following. I am also not the only person who has relied on her community -- the family and friends who love her -- in a time of crisis because that's what community is for. That's what communities do.

As for making choices that go horribly sideways, well. I have a friend who is fond of saying that when you know better, you do better. I believe this is true. I also believe this: until you screw up some, you can't know better. You have to learn, and you can't learn without some pain or struggle because without those, you have no cause to learn. Without a little trial, you are all theory and no application.  

To quote an old tv show, "you think you know, but you have no idea."

I have had some difficult times. It's true. It is also true that after going through those times, I had another choice that I would have to make (life, it seems, is filled with them): do I dare to keep trying and taking chances, or do I sit and let things pass me by in the fear that I will fuck up again?

It would be easy, I think, to be a spectator. To watch life and not participate, to decline to play and stand on the sidelines. Easy and safe. After all, I'm a born observer. It would be comfortable. 

It's harder to jump in -- to run, leap, cavort, to take risks and get bruises and navigate and move. More difficult, but also? More everything. 
It turns out that if my choice is watching or doing? I'm going to take the riskier path. I can't continue to learn and grow as a person if I don't. I'd rather lose one hundred times than never even bother to try, because even when you lose, you gain something -- a piece of wisdom, new strength, new resolve -- that you didn't have before. 

I think that's the reason we're all here. 

I've made some mistakes. I've had some of those mistakes thrown in my face lately as well, which is interesting because it suggests that I don't remember what happened and didn't choose to learn.

That notion is false. 

I carry those lessons with me. They are carved into my heart. I use those lessons to guide my decisions, which is an entirely different process than letting fear rule them. I won't live that way. If anyone thinks I should, well: I am going to disappoint you.

I will get up each and every time I get knocked down. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014


To the Class of 1994:

The thing about graduating from high school is that it is clearly an ending of one thing and the beginning of another. It's obvious, as you walk across the stage, shake the hand of some official or another, and accept your diploma that something has definitely ended, and something else has definitely begun... And that something -- we called it the future, because we lacked better terms -- was full of possibility. 



The thing I did not know then, as I walked across the stage (hoping against hope that I wouldn't trip and fall, I might add) was this: you don't need ceremony to start fresh. You don't need a piece of paper to grant you permission to unlock the door to what's next. The ritual is lovely, but the truth is that every moment gives you the opportunity for a fresh start.  Every second gives you the chance to choose who and what you will be. 

At eighteen, I felt locked in to one kind of path. Let me be clear: that path did not, in any way, suck. It was a good one.

I didn't ... Exactly ... Follow it. I took some detours. I changed lanes. 

For a really long time this made me feel like a failure. 

I realize now, though, that the failure would have been marching unquestioning down the road I had paved. Refusing to see that there were other options, that there was more than one definition of success, and that the truth is that the anything -- anything! -- is, in fact, possible would have been a denial of the dream that we held to the day we graduated: that the future -- all futures -- belonged to us.

They did.

They still do.

To my beloved, amazing, wonderful classmates: today is yours. Tomorrow is as well. You are -- we are -- still phenomenal. 

Let's do this.