A few weeks ago, some guys on the radio were discussing what song they’d want to have played at their funeral. (A bit morbid I know, but definitely some potential for soul searching.) I didn’t have any off the top of my head at that moment, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it. At the forefront of my brain is always Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and Pure Prairie League’s “Amy” – because duh…those are like the two best songs ever written. (Yes, I can feel everyone shunning me right now for that…relax already.) Anyway, I decided to email my dad and give him this assignment as well because he’s always been a music junkie (apple doesn’t fall far) and I was very curious what his response would be for himself. Much to my surprise (but in all honesty, not really) he emailed me back pretty quickly with two songs. Well ever since I’ve done nothing but troll the radio thinking, “Would this work? Would this sum up my life?” (I’m weird, I know.) Yesterday one of my latest favorites came on – Lord Huron’s “Not Dead Yet” and I jokingly texted my dad asking what he thought about that – still waiting on that text back by the way. And while it would seemingly be like the most opposite song one could ever play (because, hello, I WOULD BE dead), the more I think about it, the more I like it. In reality, funerals aren’t for the dead – they’re for the living, the NOT dead. So in all my weirdness, I thought I’d write a few thoughts to my future funeral goers to accompany this song. HOLD THAT THOUGHT.
(Disclosure: I had started writing a different blog a few weeks ago, but I think my idea with that one and this whole funeral/song thing go together so I’m combining my thoughts.)
About a month ago I joined a new gym and really love it. It’s challenging, and the members are tough as nails. One day I was on the rower and was physically spent. I was swearing up a storm and when the trainer was encouraging me to keep pushing, I yelled that I was dying. He looked right at me and yelled right back (ex military) “No, you’re living!” At the time I wanted to punch him in the face, but his words have really stuck with me. A lot of the members are military, police officers and other service-type professionals so a little two-minute exertion on the rower ain’t no thing to them. But it was good to be reminded just what “living” is. Because I think, at least for me, I get stuck in my routines, my daily expectations and when things don’t go my way or get hard, I get upset. It becomes an internal downward spiral where I’m depressed or angry and end up feeling sorry for myself because life isn’t easy. But isn’t that the true definition of life? We can’t feel the good without feeling the bad. Yet feeling in any form, by definition, means we’re alive.
“He picked up one of Lorna’s roses and set it in my lap. “Here.” I picked it up and smelled it. He poked me in the shoulder. “See what I mean? Thorns don’t stop you from sniffing. Or putting them in a vase on the kitchen table. You work around them…. Cause the rose is worth it… Think what you’d miss.”“Chasing Fireflies” by Charles Martin
So going back to my original thoughts…
Take a deep breath in. And out. You are breathing; you are alive. Don’t be afraid to shed your tears. Shout out your swear words. Laugh until you cry. That is living. Wake up early to watch the sunrise. Stay up late to see the stars. Make the effort to meet up with friends even on those days when you’re dog tired. Travel to be with your family. Love hard. Forgive harder. Stop waiting for the perfect day. The perfect family. The perfect job. Because there is no such thing. Instead embrace the “beauty in the broken” and know that our lives are the sum of our experiences, not just from yesterday but also from today and more importantly, from tomorrow. There will be days that you look in the mirror and don’t recognize the stranger looking back. But that’s okay because you’re not dead yet and eventually that stranger will become recognizable once again. The hardships, the pain – both mentally and physically – are given to you as reminders that you are living; embrace it because to feel is to live. Don’t let the bad moments camouflage the good. Because even on your darkest days when you got “holes in your clothes, booze on your breath, you look like hell and you smell like death” – remember: You’re Not Dead Yet.