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Life really IS what you ask of it.
How you look at a minute, and what you decide to do with that minute, those 60 seconds, dictates what you get out of life.
It’s not advantage, or opportunity; and it’s rarely just luck. It’s what you choose to ask of that pocket of time. What you choose, with perfect clarity, to use that moment for.
There is such a fine line between existing and living, and as I get older and walk more steps, the more completely I realise this. Comfortable and engaged is so easily accessible. It’s SO comfortable, that you don’t realise sometimes that you are not really living. Not really asking all you can of a moment. However, squeezing a moment for all it can give is not living, either. Chasing down a goal, a dream, and aspiration, and beating it into submission MAY get you want you want, but there is no truth, no light, no life-blood. It’s an inert and lifeless achievement, empty as a shell when you get there.
The difference between a life of existing, a life of living, and a life of demanding is quite simply a breath. Smallest width of an eyelash. The flutter of a butterfly’s wings. In order to SEE it and KNOW it, you need to be alert and alive in the soul, every day.
There are no easy answers. You simply have to WALK. Deliberately, joyfully, honestly, completely, fully.
I look at those who are happy and hardworking, and I realise that they have not received a better deal in life. They live a unique combination letting go but holding on and valuing. They do not labour a point, but they BRING UP points that need to be brought up. They love with a fierce intensity, and yet they can open their fingers and let go with grace the moment that it is needed. They do not have a guarantee for anything, and yet they seem to make value from the small moments. They have no materialistic backlog of memories, they simply HAVE memories, fully-formed, lasting, and real, to celebrate their humanity.
I love so many things, and I’m afraid of so many other things. I find it easy to be joyful each day. Yet I wonder if this attitude to life will change when I get older, when I have to rely more on others, when I am not as capable; will I become irrelevant, or will I be misunderstood? More importantly, will I have the grace and the courage to know when I need to move on from one mindset and embrace another? Those who live a full life know when one chapter has ended, and they need to go forward into the next. They do not grieve change, but rather they learn about it, embrace it, study it, live it, laugh and struggle with it, BECOME it. They do not look back at what was, or mourn what they “should have, could have, might have” been, they simply ARE.
Again, you won’t know until you hit that path.
There are no easy answers.
There is no guarantee.
All you can do is WALK FORWARD, ready to embrace each day.
I’ve been commissioned by UniSA to compose the opening ceremony work for the WOLTATTI 2018 Exhibition + the official launch of the MOD Centre; the University of South Australia’s Health + Innovation building. I’m writing for a 1000-voice choir + instrumental, and it’s all incredibly exciting, nerve-wracking, and extraordinary.
But I really didn’t have a full concept of the scope of the project until this week when I drove past the building site of the MOD Centre on my way toCelebration Night rehearsals, then realised WHAT I was driving past.
O.M.G. Can you get starstruck by a building?!
That’s what I’m writing the opening credits for!
Went past it again today on my way into town. WAHHHHHH!
Better make it good.
I am an unashamed plane fanatic.
I know nothing about cars, and have zero interest in anything else technological, except that it will function the way I need. I have the most basic understanding of how to fix things. I am average in all things IT. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I love planes.
I live near an airport. With my music teacher’s ears, I can tell from anywhere in the house what sort of plane is flying overhead; regional, domestic, or international. And if it’s an international flight, there is just enough time for me to drop whatever I am doing, fly out the door, and catch the magnificent underbelly of the plane soaring over my home, arms-outstretched, almost able to be sucked up the the force of it.
So when a plane was safely landed in the Hudson River on January 15th 2009, I knew that this was extraordinary. As has been said so many times over, and as I had learned through my incidental “plane-reading”, people don’t survive water landings. But when the extraordinary-ness of the event had settled, there was something far more extraordinary that captured my attention, and that was the very person of Captain Chesley Sullenberger.
What an amazing man of discipline, courage, and purpose. His life has not been perfect; he’s faced as much adversity and hardship as anybody else, yet he carries himself with quiet grace and dignity. His words are governed by humility and authority, both, and when he speaks, you want to listen. Nothing he does is extravagant, and the way he has handled the tidal wave of attention from the rest of the world whilst quietly threading together the lives of his wife and children has been gracious, and tiring, and adaptive.
What is most extraordinary to me is that he didn’t ask for any of this, and yet he has said to the media that this is something he adapted to, and has learned to do so for the greater good. I don’t know that I would have had that courage! I would have been battening down the doors and hiding in full introvert mode, and unable to meet the needs and requests of so many families, who needed to express their gratitude. He assumed this role, one that takes its toll on himself and his family, for the good of the public, for the education of others in the aviation world, and the wider community.
He takes time to examine both sides of a story, even if he has strong opinions on his part. He is constantly curious about, humbled, and invigorated by his craft – flying – and has been so since age 5. How many people know that sense of dedication and service? How many people can claim that sort of discipline, purpose, and complete love of learning in life? His love for his wife and daughters is quiet and absolute, there is no fanfare. He is not a doormat, his opinions are formed from a basis of knowledge gleaned from constant learning and refinement of his understanding of events, situations, and technologies. His words have so much quiet essence and power.
And while this event happen 9 years ago, and I have no connection whatsoever except in my love of planes, I am absolutely and completely inspired. The quiet dedication and purpose that goes against everything that is so flamboyant and loud in our world. That simple words and intelligence can cut through as powerfully as anything raucous. That this life in the spotlight is one that thousands of people covet, and Sully would give anything NOT to be living. And yet he has taken responsibility for his new-chosen role.
And I think to myself, would I have the courage?
Am I living every corner of my life, with courage and grit, using every talent and opportunity presented to me, even if I am afraid and do not like the hand I have been dealt?
It’s easy to live your life when it’s to your own parameters. Anyone can do that. But to walk with grace when you have a situation that you don’t want, and to live it with courage and give what you have been called to give, even if it is hard and takes it out of you?
Oh, I hope that I have the courage to do that.
Thank you for your example of grace and courage, Sully.
We shall remember them, those men
Who fought for us
Who left their wives, their families, their childhoods
Because they had no choice
The light grows dim, but their hearts still beat strong
In that phantom grey dawn light
For a moment in time
We will stand
Lest we forget
What they did for us.
And sometimes, you receive words like these…and your heart does a triple flip and sticks the landing.