Celebrate Life: Viva La Vida – Introduction

 

Yes.NAMAYA UNION SQUARE WITH peace flag

Yes – to life.  Yes – to the extraordinary possibilities in life. What inspires you? What is your manifesto in life? What satisfies you deeply – to the bone?  “Celebrate Life” are stories, anecdotes, and, yes, poems about the journey of life.  Don’t be scared of the poems.  They ain’t fancy or intellectual things; they’re more bread and butter poems about life, and they might even make you laugh.

You can start the book at any point and you can read it for a few minutes or longer.  Some of the stories may even serve as a reflection of your own life.  They are the quirky stories of life in southern Vermont, the kindness of strangers around the world, dealing with TSA agents, coping with family and disappointment, and ultimately, it’s about celebrating life with the spirit of Zorba the Greek, who lived his life with passion and intention — he loved well, enjoyed his friends, and lived in the moment.

I love life in all that it brings.  When people ask me, “How are you?” I say, in all sincerity, “If life gets any better, I’m going to have to give it a refund.” As my friend Alan reminds me, “Fun is number one.”

I write stories, perform and create art, and work with my community projects, and derive immense pleasure from this, and this is a life that is deeply satisfying. Yes, I work, but my work is joyful, even when it requires a great deal of work. As the saying goes, “Art is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”  I thought work had to be difficult and make me feel miserable, but I discovered as I got older I had a choice. Work is my avocation, my passion, and what I profoundly enjoy. But how many of us are following our deepest passions?  How many of us are following our true joy?   As a friend asked, “Unblocked by fear and doubt, what would you create in life?”

Even when you have your “9 to 5” job or the mom/ dad job that always seems to consume more of your life than you could have imagined … how are you finding the fun and joy in life? When I had a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. job, I woke up at 4: 30 a.m. and wrote for a couple hours before work. This was my sanctuary time during the day. Even now, when life gets a little too busy, I still keep my morning sacred.  I wake up early, do my yoga stretches, play my classical guitar, and then devote the morning to my writing and my art work. In this way, I am able to set the tone and the mood for the day. I wake up, make a cup of coffee and quietly sip it while I look to the sky and the trees outside my window.

First Cup

The first cup,

of coffee

strong and black,

savored slowly

reverentially mindful

as a monk.

Each sip

a slow revelation to

wakening.

For too many years, I had jumped out of bed and launched myself out into the world.  I realize this was not the way I needed or wanted to approach life. I wish that I had read this book, Celebrate Life, when I was younger, as it may have given me a better direction in life. Yes, I had a lot of fun when I was younger, but I didn’t always consciously create the path of my true joy.

My work is my passion and joy. Even now, halfway through life, I am switching gears to an easier way of being, and, by doing less, I am accomplishing more.

The lines from the poem, To Althea from Prison, by Richard Lovelace wonderfully captures this sense of being present in the moment:

Stone walls do not a prison make

                        Nor iron bars a cage;

            Minds innocent and quiet take

            That for a heritage.

            If I have freedom in my love

Then in my soul I am free

What is your intention in life? What is your passion and joy? What is your fun?  Why are you truly here?  Beyond the expectations of family or friends, what is your real passion in life?

In order to reach this point of a life of intention and focus, there needs to be a process akin to the 12-step program. It involves detoxifying and purging a lot of the negative junk: the would have been, could have been, should have been, and might have been.

In one of my plays, “Conversation,” there is a couple trying to have a conversation, but they can’t because of all the arguments and shouting all around them.  It is the voices are the ghosts of families, old lovers, and past relationships.  It is like “Allegory of the Cave” by Plato, in which people are chained to the walls.  They see shadows on the wall and believe that the shadows are the real life. The stranger tells them that it is an illusion and holds up a mirror so they can see the truth.  The people then kill the stranger. What do we value the most —The illusion of contentment or the reality?

This is the challenge and the choice. Do you want a life where you pursue your passion and joy? Do you dare to dream the dream of your life and live it? I have been inspired by people from all walks of life who have decided that they needed a new direction in life and found the courage to make the change.  When I was a homeopath, one patient came in and spoke of his frustration with his life.  After working with him and giving him a remedy, he transformed.  He decided to quit the job he’d had for a number of years, left a long term relationship, finished college, and reconnected with his estranged son.

Celebrate Life: Viva La Vida is an invitation to consider the joy and passion in your life and live it.

This “joy” thing has been a puzzle to many.  Joy is not a giddy, ecstatic state of being, but, rather, it is about being passionately engaged in your life. The more open I am to joy — to seeing the beauty and enchantment around me, from the dance of the wind across Blue Heron Pond, to the simple miracle of seeing the thrilling delight of the first violet crocuses, or noticing the many small miracles of beauty during the day – the more I am programming myself to joy.

Joy is a life of passion, a life of intention, and a life of celebration.  I celebrate this miracle of life in all the ways that it comes – sad, joyful, or somewhere in between; with moments of doubt and the ambiguities and disappointments of life, all of this is the mix in Celebrate Life.

I invite you to saunter through these pages, stop awhile, and consider the playful, the difficult, and the joyful moments.

Yes.

Dare to be a revolutionary. Dare to be extraordinary in life. Discover the enchantment in your daily life.

Celebrate life! Viva la Vida! Celebrate your life.

Yes!

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