the definition of life

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I spoke recently to a friend here, who was having what I consider to be close to a melt down, over the most commonly asked question for twenty-somethings in my generation: what the fuck am I going to do with my life? I for one was crippled by this questions some years ago, before I found music, before I found a lot of things. It is this assumption/social pressure/ anxiety that what we do for money, our career, defines who we are as a human. For some people it does, and some people love their job, and that’s great. But what about the rest of us? What about the servers and the bartenders and the baby sitters and the dog walkers who bust their ass all day and night just so they can go home and work on their passion for the other few hours that remain?

A very wise girl once told me, while drinking white wine from the bottle behind a music venue in Southern California, “how you support yourself, how you earn money, is not or doesn’t have to be who and what you are.” This at the time totally blew my mind. I had been down and out over serving tables and writing free articles for a local magazine for quite sometime. I kept on wondering when my career, and therefore my life, would actually start. But immediately after this night I stopped saying, I am a waitress, and I started saying, I am a writer. Because writing was truly what I did, serving tables was only how I put food in my mouth. And slowly but surely this shift in perspective started to seep into my life, and it changed everything.

And sometimes this is what I think, worst case scenario: I never write anything worth a damn, I never get published, I never finish a novel, no one ever remembers the work I did, and I am forgotten. Okay, even if that happened to me, I still have everything else that goes into being a human. I will still wake up every morning and drink good coffee, shitty coffee, all the coffee, and I’ll go to yoga, and I’ll eat amazing food, and I will travel, and I will watch my friends have babies, and I will paint, and laugh, and drink wine, and have sex, and see live music, and sing in the car, and watch sunsets, and bury people I love, and write poems, and grow old, and make jokes, and smoke joints, and talk on the phone to old friends, and yes, somewhere in there I’ll also make some money.

I think my point is, while there is merit in being driven, there is also grace in acceptance. Often times only a shift in perspective is needed to change what you are, because the paycheck, is not the definition of your life.