*This is an encore post, originally featured last April*
“If that were me, I’d do something totally crazy. Like some Miley Cyrus sh*t.”
This, though more humorously worded than usual by a friend, is the general reaction I receive when I tell the cancer story. With a full head of hair and few scars visible, the tale seems all the more inconceivable, and seems only to improve it’s ability to inspire as years pass.
But the truth is, no one would actually react that way – the “Miley Cyrus sh*t” way – under the same circumstances. In the major crises of your own life, you probably found that you reacted with much more strength, wisdom, and foresight than you had thought possible. When your livelihood is put in danger, your first thought isn’t what tattoos to get or how long it would take you to get to Vegas, but instead what, realistically, your duty is, and what logical, approachable next step you need to take forward. It’s this hypnotizing sense of zen humans are equipped with that keep us moving forward, and overcoming obstacles even in the midst of crisis. It’s that “what can I do right now” voice in our head that allows us to take the first step, to ever move forward.
(However, I will admit that in the years subsequent, I did a few of my own Cyrus shit moves, and I have the tattoos to prove it.)
The only tragedy is that after the crisis passes, we often forget that liberation our imagination just had. A ‘now or never’ mentality can actually be a very freeing and lucrative force for creativity in humans, one that is very hard to release in our normal, daily lives. An easy way to recover it is through a simple question:
If it were you, and it was time to do your Miley Cyrus sh*t, what would it be? What would you want to accomplish?
I personally don’t believe in the bucket-list approach to creating your own life experiences; the list itself becomes incredibly daunting and hard to accomplish, and often results in feelings of disappointments. It also limits our capacity for openness. Instead of a list, it seems more fitting (at least personally) to leave it a question:
What if we set one goal at a time, and let it lead us to the next goal?
What if rather than planning out the perfect execution of our experiences, we let experience lead the way?
The irony is, which you might remember after your own personal struggle, that once the battle was over and the dust had settled, you had little energy or ambition for new, lofty goals. In fact, what sounded sweetest might have been the smallest of things; staying in bed all day or taking a bath or simply reading in a quiet living room. It’s not as exciting to tell people that your Miley Cyrus sh*t was actually reigniting your love affair with your couch, but it can be just as replenishing. It might be one of the many reasons the most profound of beauties can be found in the smallest of details. The gentle rustle of wind in your hair. The smell of winter long before the snow. It’s all only accessible of you stop, silence yourself, and take a look around in the corners of this magnificent universe.
The two forms of expressional living – simple everyday existing and erratic Cyrus shit – have something very important in common that might bring us our greatest source of happiness: that whatever we want, want to do or see or experience or feel, is ok, and that we deserve whatever it is that we want. No cancer required.
What ever we wish to have, see, experience, and create, we are worthy of doing. Our worthiness for happiness requires no extenuating circumstances.
Even if we’ve built a life in which the things we actually want aren’t appropriate, such as the crazy tattoo or entire days of indoor vegetation, it isn’t too late to build one in which it is appropriate, if only now and then.
Inevitably, today or many decades from today, you will be told that your time is coming to an end, and you will have wished that the only person able to give you the freedom to do what you want had done just that.
Tell me your Miley Cyrus sh*t in the comments below, send them in an email to RachaelAfter@gmail.com, or tweet them to me on Twitter! I’ll share your responses online.