“I haven’t really ever found a place I call home. I never stick around long enough to make it. I apologize for once again, I am not in love, but it’s not as if I mind that your heart aint exactly breaking. It’s a thought, only a thought…. If my life is for rent, and I don’t learn to buy- Well I deserve nothing more then I get, ‘cause nothing I have is truly mine. I always thought I would love to live by the sea, to travel the world alone and live more simply. I have no idea what’s happened to that dream because there is nothing left here to stop me…If my heart is a ship, and I wont let is turn, because I am so afraid to fail, so I won’t even try. How can I say I am alive?…” – Dido (Life for Rent)
This morning as I walked up Massachusetts Avenue past the embassies this song came streaming into my ears, turning the rustle of leaves into a choreographed dance. The lyrics caught my attention in a new way as I thought through what it meant to rent life. It is true. If I do not learn to buy into my own life, then I will never really own my experiences or my existence. How often do we fail to see the larger picture or the small details because we lack ownership over our existences? Now this may seem extremely abstract, but I don’t believe it is. Each day I walk the same eight blocks to work and yet even simple daily activities such as these can be done actively of passively. I can choose to simply rent this time, investing little, or I can take special care with it, being conscious of my actions and my thoughts and there outcome.
How many of us had childhood dreams that we have brushed aside?
How many of us could choose to chase our dreams and don’t because we have become so detached from that place of relative-innocence of our youth…maybe brushing off those early ambitions as juvenile or ill-informed?
I have done this. I no longer move towards those dreams that I had as a child, and instead I joke with friends about how we are in the same boat, even if we are floating down stream in the unproductive waters of procrastination. I used to want to be a dancer, and then a choreographer, and then a photojournalist, a broadcast media anchor or arts based marketing executive. For a long portion of this I have wanted to travel and be opinionated. (And the longer I spent with my nose in books the more I have wanted to open a coffee shop and be a yoga instructor).
I now I sit in an office in DC tracking the level of democratic freedom within certain electoral processes and taking testimonies of human rights violations in Africa. I protest warlords that steal children and I harp on my friends for buying clothes made in sweatshops. I am opinionated but I do not dance, I have lost my camera and I have almost all together stopped writing.
“I always thought I would love to live by the sea, to travel the world alone and live more simply. I have no idea what’s happened to that dream because there is nothing left here to stop me”.
Where is the connection between the dreams of my childhood and the reality I live today? Is the disconnect created by the apathy that comes with looming credit card bills and the fear of the unknown? Do we all loose our childhood dreams or is it only those who forget to live that leave the creativity in the toy boxes of our memories?
As I examine my life in between checking e-mails and typing up memos, I am encouraged that we all have the choice to buy into our own lives. I can choose to invest in living, and that may mean I need to take up dancing again. For you it may mean something else, but I think it is important to do more then the usual. I do not want fear to determine my actions, my thoughts or my vocation.
If I wont even try, how can I say I am alive?