After I wrote my post last night, the line “I’m wide awake” from Katy Perry’s song “Wide Awake” was ringing through my head as a description of what it felt like to have this fog lifting from my eyes. But before adding something about that into the blog, I decided to read the lyrics to the song. Perry is talking about a relationship that went sour, that she believed this guy’s lie but now she is “wide awake” to who he really is. But there’s a line in the song where she says that she wouldn’t have gone into the relationship if she’d known the truth about him. This struck me because, while I understand the sentiment, I’m learning that I don’t have to live in a place of regret. When we really embrace life, we can take the highs and the lows, the good and the bad. Obviously moving forward we can learn and grow and hopefully make better decisions, for example about the next relationship we choose, but we can take each circumstance as something that is valuable, that teaches us a lesson and shapes us in some fundamental way. So I don’t agree with what Perry is saying here. Yes, of course, we all can see times looking back when we made a poor decision, but even those decisions shape us in a key way and make us who we are today as a result. We don’t have to live with regret about the past, not because it was perfect, but because we can trace how each decision we’ve made or wrong that we’ve suffered has (hopefully) strengthened us into who we are now.
Also after writing my post last night, I had a really vivid dream (this is a pretty common occurrence for me), but the content is what struck me. I was speaking to a group of young people, maybe high school or young college age. This was clearly a setting where I was teaching them something out of the wisdom I’ve gained in my old age (as I like to joke!). And so I explained to them that life can be really really REALLY hard sometimes. As I shared this I had tears in my eyes remembering the pain I’ve gone through in my own life. But then I ended my talk by telling them that it was so worth it. It’s totally worth the pain and agony and struggle because life is full of really great, incredible, profoundly beautiful moments as well. It’s worth it because we have to have one in order to have the other. We must embrace the fullness of life; we can never just take the good and leave the bad behind. I was encouraging them not to back down or try to skip out on life just because it doesn’t go exactly the way they want it to. [Another connection point: Adam Sandler’s character learns this the hard way in the movie “Click” when he continually skips through the hard or boring parts of life only to find out that the remote them automatically skips much of the good stuff as well. Not the best quality movie, but thought-provoking and it had a pretty good moral too. I’ve also heard the more recent film “About Time” covers some of these same themes.]
Obviously none of us signs up for pain. None of us asks to be hurt. And maybe if we could go back and make some different choices we would. But I never want to be someone who shies away from pain, who is unwilling to take a risk in the first place because it might turn out badly. Maybe it will turn out badly; maybe I will get my heart broken; maybe things won’t go the way that I’d planned them or hoped. But I have to live life in this moment. I have to embrace what’s ahead of me. I have to continue walking and living–in the present, not in the past or the future. I can’t be depressed about what’s happened in the past; I can’t be anxious about what might or might not happen in the future. I have to live today and embrace the fullness of whatever feelings come my way. This is one of the core truths I’ve come to believe about life and something that I wrestle to embrace every day. Please, let’s wrestle together. Together, let’s learn to embrace what today may bring–good or bad–trusting that we will come through on the other side (at least) whole, and most likely stronger for the journey. Then, we can use that strength to inform the next decision we make. Living this way–with our hearts wide open to whatever may come–is truly what it means to live life “wide awake.”