Be in love with your life

Be in love with your life.  Every detail of it. – Jack Kerouac

I saw this quote over the summer and knew instantly that I wanted to write about it.  This is so much of what I think about, write about, feel these days.  It’s taken me a very long time to fall in love with my life.  A very long time.  But I have, and I am.

But that life is full of challenges, both big and small.  It is full of disappointments and heartbreak, fury and fighting, mess and ugliness.  Every day contains some of these things.  For some reason – I suspect it’s my settling into this season, the square middle of my life, the beginning of the afternoon – I grow ever more accepting of the tarnish that is an inevitable part of each day’s sterling silver gleam.  These days, I far less often allow these troubles the power to occlude the brightness of the rest of my life.

You can’t have one without the other, after all.  Maybe that’s what midlife is, realizing this.  Every detail is required to paint the picture.  Another thing I believe is that you can dislike small things – about your life, about your relationships, most crucially, about your self –  while acknowledging their essential role in the whole.  I don’t know if that’s exactly what Kerouac meant, but that’s how I choose to read his words (believing as I do that actually loving every single detail in its own right may be challenging!).

And so, yes, I am in love with my life.  With all of it.  I embrace the shadowy valleys that are as integral to the topography of my life as are the peaks and the wide, sun-drenched plains.  After all, we are only here for a brief, shimmering second; the least we can do is throw our arms around – and ourselves into – the whole of our lives, as they are, right here, right now.  As my friend Stacy Morrison so gorgeously put it, recently, “I see now how much I want to live my life in a way that honors it, by paying attention.”  I want to honor it all: light and dark, joy and pain, beauty and ugliness.  All of it.

(Speaking of silver, those spoons are Grace and Whit’s, a gift on Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago.  I bought them here.)

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  1. Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Wow, fabulous spoons! And a fabulous quote, too, that gives me much to ponder. I truly wish I was more in love with my life. I’m going through a funk, and when I look around there’s a lot I see that makes me unhappy or just doesn’t fit well. The challenge for me is figuring out what to change and what to love, warts and all. In fact, I guess this has always been the challenge for me. When do you stay in one place and when do you go searching for something else?

  2. Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Amen. Honor it by paying attention. Recognize that the challenging stuff has value too, that those moments guide you towards becoming you. Did you ever see that Richard Attenborough movie Shadowlands? The pain and the joy go together. That’s the deal.

  3. Posted October 15, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Love the sentiment behind this post. And those spoons – what a wonderful keepsake for Whit and Grace.

  4. Posted October 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I nod and nod and sigh as I read this, as you knew I would, Lindsey! And Elizabeth, I am SO WITH YOU, on the funk and the hard and the so not in love with it all. But the effort to try to take it all, and take it all IN, is what counts, because it’s the not giving up that leads us toward being the Who We Were Meant To Be. Or, anyway, so I think and Kerouac and Mead. Good company, that. xxoo

  5. Posted October 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I studied this summer with a memoir teacher who talked about the idea of learning your story: not just the details that make up the narrative, but the shimmery themes that come up again and again that you just know you have to write about.

    When I think of you and your story, I think about this idea of being in love with your life, every detail of it. I know it’s been a learning process for you – and it’s one that I’m still on – but it’s a theme that you write about with power and grace. xo

  6. Posted October 16, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Beautiful! I love my life also. Well, most of the time. : )

  7. Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Yes, yes, yes–such beautiful words. (and spoons too!)

  8. Posted October 17, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    As I read your post I recalled a wonderful book that I think expresses this beautifully, for me at least. It is a picture book, with poetry, which reinforces the simplicity of this dichotomy at an entry level. The title is WABI SABI and the author is Mark Reibstein. Here’s a review with an interesting vdeio clip from the author and illustrator:

  9. Posted October 18, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Maybe you’re right – there is something beautiful and settling about midlife. If we can fall in love with everything, embrace each little bit, what a wonderful way to go through each day!

  10. Posted October 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    As always, you express the struggle and the joy so well. I think you’re right about midlife — I’m with you there. I still fight the details, though. Thanks for the inspiration.