Life Is Short, Pep Talks, Rants and Sermons, The Italian Incident
This is a short note to long-time readers. It’s unedited and is, simply, a reflection and a thank you.
Four years ago on Easter weekend I fell off a wall in Italy and changed my life forever. That I lived at all is wonder enough, but that I now look back on the last 4 years as some of the best, if not among the hardest, of my life, tells me a lot about what it means to be human, to be happy, and to be truly alive.
I have learned to slow down.
I have learned to live in the moment and value, with every breath, the staggering beauty and astonishing brevity of life.
I have learned to love again, and more deeply, with more laughter, than I ever imagined, though that has more to do with the amazing woman I met the week before I fell, the same one that sat with me for 4 days in hospital in Pisa, and the same one with whom I’ve shared my life since the day I met her in Genoa.
I have learned that the adventure in life is not in getting what we desire, but in pursuing it.
I have learned to laugh more, take things less seriously, and to celebrate failure because it is a more faithful teacher than any other.
I have learned to be more humanly creative, to embrace the imperfect, to love the journey despite (perhaps because of) the uncertainty of the destination.
And I have learned to be deeply, deeply grateful. Gratitude remains the best painkiller in my life.
I’m writing this because from the moment I fell and word got out, the people that have come into my life by reading this blog and my other books, started coming out of the woodwork to encourage me on. They wrote letters, sent card and flowers, and told me their names. They – you – still do. And your presence in my life is very real, even for those of you I’ve not yet met in person.
And today I walked into my massage therapists office and told her that I feel the best I’ve felt in four years. There have been surgeries, and rehabs, I’ve learned to walk again 3 times now. And I didn’t help things much by putting an axe into my leg. And I’ve got severe post-traumatic arthritis in one ankle, and one day it’ll catch up with me, but you know what, I’m not running any marathons any time soon anyways. I now walk without a limp most days for the first time since the fall. Life feels a little closer to normal, though it’s a new normal. A better normal than I ever imagined. One filled with adventure, with less fear, and with a much greater sense of how much we’re all capable of because the spark in us burns much brighter than most of us know until it gets dark enough to see it for the beacon it is. And that same spark that’s in me is in you, and if you doubt that it’s only because you haven’t had the chance for life to blow hard on the embers as things get dark. But it’s there. And it’s hotter and brighter than you know.
There’s probably a symbolism in the fact that I fell on Easter weekend, which is about new beginnings and new life, if it’s about anything – even at the most deeply spiritual, it’s about that – and I believe more now in every day resurrections and the power of light and love than ever before. We don’t usually get do-overs in life. You don’t get to hit rewind no matter how much you beg and plead. But we can make new starts, change directions, and bounce back from dark places. We can learn to walk again when all we believe we can do is crawl.
So I wanted you to know. I’m grateful. And for those of you with whom I was already on thin ice for all my poet-warrior stuff (just teach me how to make better photographs, duChemin!) I’m probably more intolerable now than I ever have been because now more than ever I believe in what we’re capable of if we’ll make the choice to do it. I believe that the beauty and brevity of life demand that we abandon this idea of spare time, and see every moment full of potential. There is no time left over. I believe it demands that we live intentionally and set the world ablaze. We can all live so much larger than we think, if we’ll abandon the smaller thinking.
So thank you.Truly. Deeply. Thank you.
You’ve helped me through these four years and given me a chance to do my art and give the world what I can.I hope in some way my work brings back to you some piece of the light you’ve given to me.
Everyone should be so lucky.