“Slow down. You’re too important. Life teaches you to to live it…” if you only wait long enough. ~Tony Bennett
The blinding light of the mountain snow is glaring through my window and outside is so cold I can see rainbows in the air, every drop of moisture crystalizing into prisms of ice. I am spending my weekend reacquainting myself with my indoor hobbies. Work was so quiet this week that I felt like my light had blown out, but after a Netflix binge of quirky comedies, I realized that I just needed a little restorative couch potato time after a busy fall.
Among my trips this fall was a wedding of a summer camp friend from middle school. I’ve missed a lot of weddings since I live so far from home, but I had both time and money for this one, and Peabody (as only a few of us call him) was a pivotal friend in my life. What gift to be able to join his big day.
A few years ago when I visited him, his light had gone out. You’ve probably seen it in others … the sparkle in their eye dulls, a weight sitting on their chest. The same friend sits next to you and talks, but the life in them is gone, a different person staring out at you. At the time he was feeling done with adventure and looking to settle down and not having luck finding the magic lady. He was worn out with unconventional living and ready for some normal. And now he has his new normal. He has her, and both of them have their light on. As I dolled up for the wedding, I wondered if my light had gone out. Heading to a wedding, single and knowing no one. Did Peabody know how much I love him to subject myself to this? The cruddy irony of celebrating someone’s love when you are wondering where yours is.
At his reception, I was quick to start chatting people up before my introvert shell froze my conversational abilities and made me want to slink back to my hotel. Sitting with his college friends – all couples – I turned and asked one of the guys, “So, what do you do?”
“I go to the beach,” he replied.
His wife spun around, “Did you just ask what he does and he told you, ‘Go to the beach’?”
“Yes,” he and I both giggled.
We moved on to talk like grown ups about the thing we do that pays us, but we did get back around to the idea that he had answered a typical small talk question about a job with an atypical response about a passion. He answered me not with what he does for eight hours a day but with what turns his light on.
I’ve watched as the brightness in friends is snuffed out, often smothered by divorce, burnout, death, exhaustion of parenting. As we talk, I secretly try to nudge the cloud aside and find my old friend underneath the smoke. I often can’t, not then at least. I have to wait for the heat of life to release them. Sometimes that takes years.
I can’t help but wonder, after this simple conversation, what if, instead of asking these weary friends about work or kids or the house, I asked, “What turns your light on these days?” What would they answer? What would you answer? And would I get to see the sparkle in their eyes – in your eyes – return and sense the soul re-inhabit the lifeless body next to me?
What turns your light on?
#liveyourbestlife #livingthedream #findyourpassion #youarenotyourjob