Tag Archives: “real life”

Be someone who’s happy to be

“We are human beings, not human doings,” a friend recently said.

I don’t know about you, but I’m often hung up on what I need to be doing next and if I’m doing enough. So when someone reminded me this week that we’re human beings, not human doings, it made an impact.

If we’re always in our heads harping over details of yesterday or what’s going to happen tomorrow, never enjoying anything as it happens, are we ever really living?

Asking myself this made me realize how much I define myself by what I do — or what I’ve accomplished. I’m a writer and editor. I’m married with two cats, and I’m counting down the days to Season Two of Stranger Things.

But do those things really define me?

Writing and editing are what I do. Cats and a house are what I’ve acquired. TV just fills my time, and my husband is who I hang with. None of this makes me any different from all those other married, literate, TV-watching homeowners perpetually covered in cat hair.

These things categorize me, but I’m not sure they define me.

How would you describe what makes you “you”? Are you defined by what you do, who you’re with, or what you’ve achieved?

Would you instead define yourself by what you feel and how you perceive things? If you were blind or deaf or unable to speak or even move, would that make you any less real? Or any less important?

Makes me wonder if it’s even possible for us to fully define ourselves, or if we need others to fill in the blanks for us. After all, I can believe all I want that I’m a good person, but if no one else sees it, am I really?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while goals and achievements are important, so is being in the now. Get off your phone, and listen to people. Notice what’s around you, instead of zoning out.

I think what truly defines us is how we interact with what’s around us — people, nature, higher power. And how we let it all change us.

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Ten years I almost forgot

Usually when people who haven’t seen me in the long time ask what I’ve been up to, my answer is the same: Nothing.

Everything is the same, nothing has changed, this is my life.

But it’s not true.

I might not be where I expected to be by now, or have what I thought I’d have, but my life has been far from tedious, and it’s about time I admitted it. So, without much emphasis on details, here’s just a quick list of some of the things I might have forgotten to mention if you ever asked me what I’ve been doing since 2006. And after reading this, I hope you’ll make your own list — for your blog, for your Facebook page, or for yourself – just a reminder of all the little things in life worth remembering and celebrating!

latte

At Le Pain Quotidien, with my niece, in NYC

  • Bought a house
  • Started playing the old clarinet again
  • Photographed three weddings
  • Went to my 12-year high school reunion
  • Gave the sermon at church five times… with a sixth coming up soon
  • Took four overnight skiing trips — and didn’t die
  • Met my best friend
  • Ran a 5K
  • Wrote a 50,000-word novel in November — seven times
  • Performed the Verdi Requiem, Carmina Burana, and Bach’s St. John Passion with the Masterworks Chorus at Shepherd University
  • Was a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding
  • Attended a Pakistani wedding reception
  • Become an aunt twice over
  • Took my husband’s niece on a “Christma-Birth-uation” road trip to NYC
  • Took another niece to the local premier of a 14-year-old writer/director’s horror movie
  • Saw Aerosmith and Hootie and the Blowfish in concert
  • Interviewed LeAnn Rimes over the phone and Candace Cameron Bure in person
  • Saw Phantom of the Opera twice at the Kennedy Center
  • Saw various other local stage productions
  • Traveled the entire East Coast, from Montreal to The Bahamas
  • Went tubing and kayaking on the Shenandoah River

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Real life is like that

So, you know how when people become inspired by the life or actions of a character on TV or in film, there are always those naysayers who combat the feelings of the newly inspired with, “Oh, but that’s just a movie.  Real life isn’t like that”?

Even those who have been inspired will find ways around achieving what they’ve seen others do.  “I know it’s only fiction, but…”  This preface to whatever we might feel bolstered to bring to life is like a safety net for when we don’t.  It’s like saying, “I know this is stupid, but…”  Then if it really is stupid, and someone else calls us on it, we can say that yeah, we knew it wouldn’t work out, however much we really thought it might and really wished it would.

Well, what I think, and know it might be stupid and it’s only fiction, but…

So what?  So what if the stories we love and want to live are scripted?  Is it really so cliché to point out that every day we’re writing the very lines of our own stories?  In National Novel Writing Month we learn that writing our stories unscripted is what truly breathes life into them.  If we stick to an outline and any preconceived scenes or actions or dialog, then the characters and their choices seem stiff.  They might even feel too perfect.  That’s when they don’t feel real.

Personally, (and I’m just thinking out loud on my digital paper here, but…) I’d say real life is exactly “like that” – at least, it’s like the really good stories — the ones about realistically drawn characters who have to overcome adversity in order to improve upon their situations in life and who, along the way, improve upon themselves as well.  Sure, by the time we read a book or watch a film, we’re seeing the scripted version, the edited finished product, after someone or many someones have come along and chosen which version of a greater story they want to convey to an audience, but isn’t that what we do each and every day when we relate the stories of our lives to our loved ones?  We tell them only the good parts — or the bad parts.  We don’t give them all of the boring every-day in between stuff, unless we’re trying to frame our story with the humdrums: “I was just driving to work, like I normally do, and I turned on the radio like always…”

So who cares if you read about someone who broke out of her everyday blah by being determined enough to shoot for something greater?  Okay, so it’s just a book, but maybe someday your life will be a book too, a fiction based on real life.  The lines in that book or screenplay will be scripted, and they might not be yours, but it’s not really the dialog of our lives that matters anyway.  It’s the actions.

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