Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stay Young, Go Dancing

"Lisa, where have you been? We haven't heard from you in weeks."
"I've been doing some research."
"Research?" (somewhat skeptically)
"Yeah, I've been trying to find out what brings me life?"
"Did you find it?"

November is one of those months of blah as well as some sketchy moustaches. I find my spirit wanes and my motivation for everyday life is in the toilet. I would rather be a hermit, holed up in my little nest, sleeping and reading in a cozy chair sipping tea than do anything else. Not very motivating, I know. But this has been where I've been. The pace of life continues at break neck speeds and pulls me along unwillingly. I bundle myself up against the biting cold and put my behind onto rock hard, frozen seats to drive over icy, snowy roads to do the things that require that I leave my cocoon. But somewhere deep inside I am have been in rebellion.

So much of life seems to be the default setting. Based on where you were born, your life follows a fairly predictable pattern. Here in the sometimes frozen world of the north, our pattern is: you are born, you are taught how to function socially, to a certain degree, you are involved in lots of activities to round out your personality, you get an education, a job that pays the bills, a spouse, a family, then you get old and die of some crazy disease caused by overeating or strange chemicals that infiltrate your body and shut it down. This pattern, if we are honest, sucks. We have become really great at insulating ourselves while going through the motions of life in the midst of our default setting. We insulate ourselves from the cold, the wind, food shortages, lack of technology, financial ruin, influenza, and adventure. The default setting of our lives, for the most part is safe. Nothing about our daily lives gets our heart beating so we have to exercise, watch sports and soap operas on television and yell at bad drivers. There is nothing that really motivates us to live fully. Survival is stocking up on the some of the thousands of offerings at the grocery store, turning up the thermostat, and turning on the hockey game.

I am tired of default. It has worn me right out and I didn't choose it, it seems. The adventure of life seems to have had the blood drained out of it. Adventure is dead. I'm not talking about jumping out of airplanes, or driving race cars, or swimming with dolphins. I'm talking about making everyday life an adventure. I refuse the default setting. I am going to choose something else.There are three things that I am going to experiment with to start my new adventure. The first, living with less. In saying that, I am not judging you if you don't choose to join me or if you think that I am a wacko. All I am saying is that simple, for me, looks like less, which leads to adventure. Finding ways to survive and thrive without iPhones, television, up to date fashion, and Doritos seems liberating to me. People did it before and I have a notion their lives were full and that communication, entertainment, the clothes on their backs and the food in their bellies was satisfying and genuine. I want to try that. It sounds exciting.

The second thing that I am going to experiment with is dancing. There's a song that I've been listening to lately called "Stay Young, Go Dancing". It's by a band called Death Cab For Cutie. (Mom, it's okay, they are not psychopath, goth murderers, they just have a strange name.) The title of the song really says it all. One Sunday morning, a few weeks ago, I cranked the tunes and danced my heart out. It felt so great. I am a horrible dancer, but it doesn't matter. Connecting my body to the melodies created by other humans, like me, makes me feel alive. I want to move. I want to throw my arms in the air and jump and twist and turn, because something inside of me says: "Dance, Lisa. Dance until you can't breathe. Dance until you fall down in exhaustion. Listen and respond to the life inside of you." 

The third thing on my list is rest. After the dancing, I am going to do nothing. I am going to watch as the snow falls gently to the ground. I'm going to tell my overactive brain to shut-up. I'm going to close my eyes and feel the warm sunshine through the window even though it's cold outside. I'm going to say no to things that would rob me of the resting time. Not everything that I do is vital or even that important. It feels so great to be honest about that.

I have looked and have seen that the busyness of the world can go on without me for some moments of genuine, face-to-face conversation, heart throbbing dancing, and soul renewing rest.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Jeremy and I always tell each other if either of us has something lodged in our teeth or if we have ambiguous crusty things around the corners of our mouths....that's usually Jeremy, just to clarify. It's just what we do. We are comfortable in each other's lives. We do this to help each other. We help because we care. But there have been times when I don't mention these kinds of things to other people because I do care. What is up with that? I care to not embarrass others by mentioning it, all the while they have green things clinging to their teeth and I try not to look directly at them for fear that I will be found out. Some of you may now be mortified that while I'm talking to you, I'm checking out your teeth and that I won't tell you if their are ghosts of meals past lingering there. I think that sometimes I just get shy.

A long time ago, I used to work at a farm supply store in a small town back in Saskatchewan. There was a lady who frequented our store that came mostly to use the bathroom. I am not sure if she had one. She spent most of her days wandering the streets, pulling her possessions in a wagon, rain or shine, sweltering heat or in the middle of a deep freeze, she was there. Her name was Rosemary, which I thought was a beautiful name. Her smile was beauty too. Her face transformed. The lines around her eyes deepening until only small slits of twinkling wonder were left. I would greet her and say her name, wondering if anyone else used it in an kind way. One day she came to use the bathroom. You could hear her talking to herself behind the closed door. Nothing that made any sense to anyone that could hear her, but she was communicating nonetheless. As she came out of the bathroom a trail of toilet paper dragged behind her like a train. People looked at her. You could see their thoughts swirling in the silent air. I couldn't bear to hear that silent roar of ridicule and disdain. As she reached the door to leave, I stepped behind her and put my foot on the paper trail. I helped her push open the door and told her to have a nice day. As I bent down to pick up that paper, I remember thinking that even thought most people thought Rosemary was crazy, she still deserved dignity and respect. She may never have felt humiliation or embarrassment but I would have, had I let her walk all over town that way. It hurt me that others would rather mock or laugh at the weak and poor among us. I was brave when it counted.

In my Heroes class this week, we talked about honor. We talked about how honor is a choice. We bring honor to ourselves when we give it away. Though others may never see how we choose to honor others, it strengthens us to do so. This is still a lesson that I need to keep learning. This life is not all about me. It's small acts of courage and love for others that can change things. I needed to be reminded of that today.