Do you live with regret? Do you recoil at the fact that you “wasted” years of your life being a person you never wanted to be, doing things you loathed, caught up in addictions or self-destructive behavior, living for other people? Are you there right now?
When I was younger, I would shout from the mountaintops that the pretty houses, picket fences, nice cars, important jobs, kids, college, joyful holidays were “all a lie”, all things set up by “the man” to force us into subservience. I was convinced life was little more than toil, taxes, and eventual death by cancer or something even more insidious. So, I went all out and did whatever I wanted: art, music, drugs, alcohol, poetry, sex, anything to go against “normal” existence. I was convinced the life I chose to live was more interesting, edgier, and more underground. But much like skinny jeans, it’s no longer edgy when everyone is doing the same thing. I unknowingly assimilated myself into the “new normal”.
Today, I think some of the realest risk-takers are those who actually have their shit together, people who lead happy lives and care about their well-being, and people who care about the families, friends, and communities. I guess love and compassion will never be in style, so in a way, I guess that fact makes it “punk rock” (or metal, or bluegrass; it’s all the same in the end, anyway).
If you’re under the age of, say, thirty-five, you may think this is utter nonsense. That’s fine; I would have thought so too. It never seems fun to do what’s expected, and hell, a little anarchy and answering to the call of the wild can add some interesting experiences to your life. But eventually, hopefully, love, kindness, and compassion will take precedence.
Speaking as someone who cheated death at a young age, and cheated life for many years after that, I implore you to grab hold of what you love and make your life count. Give a hug to your mom next time you see her. Give your dad a kiss on the cheek, even if it makes him uncomfortable. Call your grandparents and tell them you love them. Stop yelling at your kids. Attempt to understand the people around you, regardless of their shortcomings, and provide them everything you can. Realize there are greater forces at work, but don’t judge others. Go easy on yourself and don’t worry about “wasted” years; they only add to your story. Choose your own adventures. Realize that the smallest moments are significant. You’re part of something bigger than yourself.
I challenge you to be grateful today.
I challenge you to practice self-care.
I challenge you to help someone in need.
I challenge you to be spontaneous.
I challenge you to be inspired.
I challenge you to better yourself.