|CC by me, Andy Shuping|
Back in college I remember going to an overnight church retreat with friends that I probably only saw about three times a year, so we always had interesting conversations on everything and anything. One of my friends at the time was premed, strong willed, opinionated, and didn't take shit. I don't even remember what we were talking about, but when another dude found out she was premed he started an earnest conversation about wanting to know what the next big diseases were going to be so that he could prepare for them. What was the next plague, the next cancer, and so on and so forth. He didn't want to die and he wanted to know what he could do to keep living. I don't recall if either of us actually said this to him, or if it was just something we were both thinking, but I think we said to him something along the lines of "Why spend your time worrying about what might come or might happen? Live! You could die from something random, why worry about something that might never happen? Live!" I don't think he ever got why we thought it was weird to worry about what might come.
Given everything that's happened in the last few months in the world, I've been thinking about that conversation again. And in the context of my own life. In part because the last couple of years I let other things get in way of me living life. I listened to well meaning people that tried to shove me down a path they thought was best for me, thought it wasn't the right one for me. Of not standing up to people in my life and calling them what they are and speaking up for myself. Of letting a former boss tell me that I needed to think about what I said, how I wrote, how I did things, etc. in life and how it reflected on her and my library. Because that's what matters right? Screw having an opinion of your own, toe the line and think my way. Good times right? I got caught in my own trap of worrying about things that were beyond my control and of not living. And forgetting how to create.
And when things seemed at their worst, things that I'm still not prepared to talk about publicly yet, a new path presented itself. And I left that world. I cut ties with some things rather forcefully, the former boss for example. Others, for better or for worse, friends and people that I miss, decided to cut ties on their own, believing what they choose without asking questions. And while it hurt and while there were pains the last few months of being in an environment of creating, of making, of not having to justify why I do something for other than artistic/creative reasons, and not having to worry about how my art will reflect back on someone else, has been frightening, scary as hell, awesome, and amazing all at the same time. Its freeing to be able to pursue my dreams and my passions again. And to begin to feel like myself again.
And in this season of remembrance, thanks, and wishes, I am grateful for those that have stood with me across worlds, of those that have entered my world and who challenge me, of those that never left, of those that have but may come back, and those that are yet to come.
And so this is my wish to all this holiday season. Life is too damn short. Use those things saved for "special" occasions. Tell people that you care. Don't be silent. Keep fighting. Keep making. Keep being yourself.