Monday, June 13, 2016

Live Your Life!

"Call home as soon as you get there.
Call home as soon as you get there.
Call home as soon as you get there.
Call home as soon as..."

I could repeat that to myself the entire ten minutes that it took to walk from my house to my best friend's house, but even then it didn't stop me from forgetting to actually do it. And typically it resulted in me getting grounded.

That was only a few decades ago. Before cell phones. When we all wore watches and relied on the street lights to tell us when we needed to be home. If I wanted to play with my friend, and my Mom was gabbing away on the phone, or the line was busy (remember that!?), I'd hop on my bike and ride to their house.

Our times were documented on my Mickey Mouse 110 camera. And even then we'd sometime wait years to get that film developed.

It's hard to believe those times are now "back in the day".

Almost a year ago, I had that moment in time where I realized that I'm joining an older generation. A generation who valued things differently. For me, it happened at a Counting Crows concert when I reached into my back pocket, turned on my iPhone, and started taking a video of my sister's favorite song to send it to her. Through the tiny glow of my screen, I saw hundreds of other people doing the exact same thing.

With a slight breeze off of Lake Michigan, and hundreds of concert-goers around me in the open amphitheater, I realized that most of us had settled for re-living a moment more than living IN it in the first place. We were more eager to record a moment in time through our tiny handheld devices than to watch it actually taking place in person.

It was like a knife-to-the-gut sort of feeling.

Now, I'm sure my Mom would have aged a bit slower had she had the instant access to me, via cell phone, that mothers have these days. I'm also sure I'd have looked good in all of my slumber party pictures, and that everyone would be certain, with instant reviewing access, to have their eyes open for group photos!

But maybe my awkward years would have been all the more challenging. Being a teenager is tough enough on its own. I can't imagine being one today, with everyone posting selfies of themselves that look like they could be on the cover of a magazine. Me and my friends were too busy swimming, and bike riding to worry too much about glamour shots and the judgments that come with them. It's rough enough for me to live up to it all in my 30s!

My heart just goes back to simpler times. When we could sit around a campfire in the backyard and just share life. We could talk for hours, or we could just stare into the fire without the continuous glow of our electronic devices.

Now I'm not saying that technology is evil. Truth be told, I love it. I love that I have a way, other than snail mail, to be caught up on the lives of my overseas, and out of state, friends. But are we sacrificing too much? Are we paying to attend concerts that we just end up watching through a small screen anyway? Are we losing out on building relationships with people because we're too consumed with taking the perfect picture of the moment and letting everyone know where we were when it happened?

I don't know.

I'll still take a picture to capture an instant in time. And I'm sure that I will still document an amazingly plated meal. But I'll also be sure to put down my phone to focus my attention to a friend.

Or to enjoy a really nice campfire as well.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Who Are You?

There often comes a point in motherhood when a woman begins to wonder what her identity is or where it can be found. Between dirty diapers, piles of clothes, and shuttling children from play practice to dance class, it isn't rare to find a tired mother underneath it all, who at some point has asked herself, "Is this really my life?"

That luxury is not solely reserved for wives and mothers though, as I learned yesterday, when a mom-friend of mine posed the question for all of us to answer, "Who are you?"

Instantly I smiled, cracked my knuckles, and prepared to dive into a flood-like response from the depths of my creative being. My wit and sarcasm were sure to garner a few laughs in the process as well.  But sadly, my tap ran dry.

For over twenty-four hours now I have been haunted by this question. And like Derek Zoolander, thrown to the ground and staring at his reflection in a dirty puddle in the street, I find myself wondering, "Who am I?"

As a child I learned pretty young that fairy tales are simply imagination mixed with a bit of magic, nothing more. I never dreamed of being a princess or anything like that. Yet my imagination was fostered well. In my heart, and in my journals, I hid the dreams of what my life would one day be.

I marched to my own beat. And in the security of knowing who I was, and who I would be, I was somehow able to avoid the distractions and voices of doubt around me.

(Photo by Katie Curtin)

Now that little girl is all grown up. The little girl with skinned knees and dollar store goggles is now an adult, with scars and no time, or finances, to swing by the dollar store to grab something random that just screams her name.

Time and life have sucked so much out of me that I look in the mirror, I look at my yard, I look at the mess in my house after 45+ hours of working and ask myself, "Who am I? Is this really my life? Is this really what I have to look forward to for the next X amount of years?"

Certainly I'm more than debt, old shoes, jeans that are barely holding together, weeds, cat fur, dust bunnies, bills, and memories from the past. I mean...right? Maybe? ... Hopefully...

The volumes upon volumes of hopes and dreams that my younger doe-eyed self once held are gone. They aren't even ones that can now be dusted off and reexamined in the light of day. They are ships that simply passed in the night and were never meant to meet.

There is only one left that I hold loosely onto. It doesn't define me, but perhaps someday it will.

Maybe someday, when I'm living alone with my plethora of cats and dogs in a cabin somewhere, it will be the thing that I will be able to say is who I am.

Until then, I journey on. Hoping that maybe someday I will catch a glimpse of that little girl that used to have so many foolish dreams, and she didn't give a crap what anyone else thought of them.

I've reinvented myself in the past. Perhaps I will again. Not today, though. Today I will watch the cottonwood fly through the air like a snowstorm, sing loudly in my car, and maybe go for a walk if it doesn't rain.

Just me and my thoughts.
I guess the only question I have for you is the same one I have for me.

Who are you?