Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saavik was right...

....I never have faced death.

Not like this.

What is it about death that makes us finally step up to the plate and start living? And on the flip side of that, what makes us go back to our old habits and routines? I think what we sometimes see as our rut is our comfort zone, and no matter how much we think we should do something else, we're in it because we like it that way. If no one was to judge us and how we live, I think as humans we'd be even less motivated.

I'm asking myself these questions because tomorrow is my cousin Ingrid's birthday. She would have been 31 had she lived to celebrate it, and all I can think about are how many birthdays I missed. I wasn't able to celebrate her 30th with her, and oh how I am wishing I had. I'm wishing I'd done a lot of things. The other night I was in the middle of doing some beadwork, and I just broke down crying because it made me remember a jewelry party Ingrid once had that I didn't attend. I'm thinking about all the cards I never sent, the phone calls I never made, and the opportunities to visit I never got off my ass for. And not just with her, but with everyone. I've missed a lot of things, and I look back and I feel a sense of regret, but something made me miss them at the time that seemed more important. Right now I am thinking that nothing in my life could have been more important, but I'm only thinking that because I found out so unexpectedly that my chances were extremely finite. We all prioritize things and we work around what we consider to be solid and unchanging things, or more to the point what we think is unchanging. It's all those stories of people who live their entire lives in New York but never go up in the Empire State building or visit Ellis Island until they've moved away and return to visit. We never seem to take advantage of what is right in front of us.

Ingrid and I were family, and everyone thinks family is always there. For example, Ingrid's wedding was the same day as another friend's that I'd already committed to, so I missed her wedding. She missed mine. We both missed a lot of things. Since we became grownups, it's not as easy to just do anything whenever, and I don't think either one of us ever thought much about it, since hey, we're family, we'll hook up at some point. Working retail for so many years made it hard to do much at Christmas, so I just got in the habit of missing most family holiday festivities.

Before Ingrid died, the closest person to me that died was my friend Sara's father, Greg. His was another very unexpected death, and he was a truly wonderful man. A talented artist and wonderful father and husband, he was the kind of guy who left a positive mark on anyone he met. For example, growing up the house Sara's family lived in was next to a small corner grocery store. They left that house and neighborhood about 10 years before he died, but the owner of the grocery was at his funeral. I mean, everyone loved this guy. After his funeral, some friends and I said that we would make it a point to see each other more often and stay in better touch because we don't want another decade to go by without contact. This vow of course lasted like a month. One of these friends was in law school, the other med school, and things just come up. Life gets in the way sometimes, and no matter how much we swear we won't let it, it just does. It's the same thing that keeps us from keeping New Year's resolutions. Life gets in the way of life, or as I said to my cousin Kane, being a grownup sucks. There isn't always time to take advantage of every chance.

Like today, for example. I went to the Columbus Arts Festival with my friend Kerensa who I haven't seen in real life in like 20 years. We've been connected via the internet and phone calls, but it's been a long time since we've seen each other in person. We had a lovely day, but in my old age it seems like me+heat=migraine, so here I am in bed (and probably shouldn't be) writing this blog. Am I at the movies with my friend Tim? No. And will I look back on this and say "Dammit, I should have gone to see Plan 9 From Outer Space with Tim!"? Probably. Will I remember this migraine? Sure, but it won't seem like much of a reason if Tim ever moves more than the 3 hours away he is currently. Like my friend Kevin who lived 3 hours away for most of the time I knew him, until he moved to Brisbane. Did I take full advantage of his relatively close proximity? Nope.

When we want change, it can be such a good thing. But when we aren't ready for it, it is horrible and we spend so much time searching for a way to capture what is lost just one more time. It never happens. I think this is why I'm fascinated by stories of time travel. Time travel makes it possible to go back and take full advantage of every missed chance, and allows you the wisdom to know how much of a missed chance it is if you don't take it. I wonder what brings more wisdom, experience, or knowing what you missed by not experiencing?

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