Monday, March 2, 2009

Live Life Like A Visitor

Over the weekend while walking around the bookstore, i noticed a book with an amazing title: Julia Cameron's The Sound of Paper. How could you not stop and take some time to browse through a book with that title. The Sound of Paper.

What is the sound of paper? Is it the slight rustle you hear as you turn from one page to the other? The delicate shuffle sound just before that as the two pages slide across each other while beginning the process of turning them? Of, is it the sound of the words in your head as you read them? Or, is it more metaphorical and referring to the sound of the ideas that the words impart? The ideas that remain unspoken, yet easily understood, while you read the words on the page. The ideas that move people, that move nations, that move civilizations. You can't hear them, but their sound can be deafening. And they germinate on a piece of paper.

In any case, i felt compelled to pick up the book and while looking through it, i noticed this amazing sentence. "Today i am frustrated. My life stretches in front of me like a highway going nowhere that i know."

I don't know the context of the sentence because i didn't read a lot more of that section. I don't know if Cameron was talking about her life or about someone else. But when i read that, every pore in my body felt the sadness of that sentiment. Frustrating? No! Just the opposite.

For me, for my life, you couldn't offer a better description of an ideal path — a highway going nowhere that i know of. That's what life is all about. It is the uncertainty and ambiguity of life that makes it interesting. If you always knew where you were going, if you could always predict the future, if you could always know the outcomes... life wouldn't be interesting. You need to know the path you're on, the basic direction it is heading, but life will be more interesting if, when you look as far as you can, all you can see is that it goes around that far hill and disappears into the distance, ending up where, you're really not sure.

Life, in the grandest sense of the word, is nothing but pure potential. We are born with nothing; no skills, no education, no abilities, no promises, nothing. Everything we do, everything we want, everything we hope for, we earn for ourselves. There is no limit to what we can be and do. There is no limit to what we can think and learn. We are only limited by the boundaries we build around ourselves.

To expand our lives into that potential requires being open, being vulnerable. Not just a little, just to test the waters and see what happens, but being vulnerable enough to allow ourselves to find what life presents, or, more accurately, to let it find you, instead of you going out and looking for some predetermined something. And when it finds you, having the courage to accept it. The quality of your life depends solely on how open you are to what life can and will offer.

One way to look at it is to think of living your life as if you were a visitor here, not a permanent resident with all the answers and full knowledge of all the rules. Be a visitor, poke around in the hidden corners of life, look down those alleys you usually walk past without a glance, try those foods you normally wouldn't eat at home, investigate the other cultures, befriend people who don't look like you, befriend those that force you to learn a little of a different language.

It's true, we are only visitors here. Why not live life like we understand that.