I went camping this past weekend. This was the view:
The first day I was there, 3 hawks, a slew of hummingbirds, and a black-and-white butterfly greeted me, along with this baby Scarlet Bugler:
It was a weekend where logic said I should have stayed home to work, but I went anyway. I put my phone, notebooks, and work to the side and just spent time with the people around me.
Storms blew in, storms blew out, but it was clear about 60% of the time and never got too hot.
Maybe I should have adventured out and explored a little more, but I mostly stayed in our spot and got to know friends-of-friends a little better.
And that is how I came to hear my new favorite toast:
“They call it life.”
Felicia taught it to me. She got it from her Aunt Mary, who was a full-on character. Think of an Italian mother who was also a welder and a foreman, and that’s a snapshot of Aunt Mary.
And when situations around her didn’t really need any more words than they was already getting, Aunt Mary would simply say: They call it life.
And leave it at that.
It’s kind of the perfect phrase for everything.
Two people are arguing and you’re resisting the urge to correct both of them: They call it life.
Miraculous events come together to make for a perfect night: They call it life.
You’re trying to be impressive but end up embarrassing yourself instead: They call it life.
You work hard for years and finally build your dream home: They call it life.
You have plans to go on a trip but get rained out after paying all the fees: They call it life.
Because it is.
None of us are quite certain as to what we’re all doing here, but it’s undisputed that we:
- share a stage together
- are collectively ruled over by forces of nature
- meet in the shared choas of overlapping dreams — past and present
- call it life
People may debate who/what we are before we come here, or about where we go when we die, but we mostly agree that we’re here now. Together … for some reason.
Even if we would rather not be.
And Aunt Mary’s toast embraces that chaos with a wink and a smile every time.
Not only that, it’s also a hearty reminder to choose your dreams wisely and not insert yourself into every bit of chaos someone brings around.
It was a wink I needed someone to put into words this weekend, to be honest.
You see, I was raised to be a fixer. When things escalated around me, I was the third-party interference that tried to break things up before they exploded, and I never got the memo that I was allowed to stop that as an adult.
I was the anti-Aunt Mary: I tried to fix the chaos while it was hissing and rearing to fight, which … 😂🤣😅 yeah, take it from me, is no way to spend a life.
A better life is to just carve out your little spot in the world, make it into your personal heaven, then ride the bumps and bruises as they come with a can-do attitude and people you like being with.
Of course, you don’t have to do that. You can do anything you want to. After all:
They call it life.
And you can live yours however you want to.
My advice, though?
Don’t get lost in the dreams or legacies of those who came before you OR in the dreams of those currently surrounding you.
Build on them, sure; honor them, if you can; but your time and stage is different than those who came before, and it’s your job to rise and adapt.
They call it life.
It can be a dream or it can be a nightmare. It can be torture or bliss. It’s all in how we meet the chaos that becomes the story we tell when it’s over.
So choose a story you want to tell and get going. Because there are only two things that are certain: the clock is ticking and chaos happens.
Might as well have the chaos find you where you want to be, surrounded by people you enjoy, and with a life’s work you’re proud to leave behind as a gift to those who follow you in time.