You are a body in this world.
Not a digital being. You don’t exist only in a series of 1’s and 0’s.
You are not human code.
You have limbs and blood and eyes and a heart and a brain and a mind and a soul.
And you are different from the others. You always have been. You always will be.
One day maybe you will make your peace with this fact of life. You certainly want to, even in the midst of the joy and the pain. The need to belong is strong, though, and you struggle.
But for this moment, as you re-enter the world in this crazy heady “OmgIhavemylifeback” moment of post-Covid giddiness in America (a giddiness denied to the poorer nations of the world who do not have much vaccine, please remember), I would ask you to do one thing: remember that you are a body in this world.
The Covid Years should have reminded you of this robust truth about your frailty (no matter how strong or tough you think you are, your body breaks just like all the others) but oh we forget so easily. It’s one of the wonderful and maddening things about Americans: despair does not live in our bones. We move on quickly and we force our way with sunny attitudes and perpetual grins into new and stunning moments of peril. This is both good and bad. We save and we destroy. And then we move on to more saving and destroying.
We Walk the Road with a Hammer and a Fiery Lantern
My man Bruce Springsteen has a line (yes, he has a line for everything) and it goes like this: “I walk this road with a hammer and a fiery lantern. With this hand I built … and with this I burned.”
We are all on that road. Every single one of us, young and old, stupid and intelligent, strong and weak. Building and burning, in our work, in our families, in our relationships. Some of us are just more elegant in our ways.
And everyone does it all in this one body. You have one. Only one. I hope you are taking care of it and I hope you are taking care of your mind and your soul as well. We have spent more than a year existing primarily on screens with each other. Consuming on screens, talking on screens, working on screens, learning on screens, laughing on screens, and, yes, crying on screens. But not hugging. And oh how some of us have missed touch.
Life Beyond the Screens
We are moving beyond screens now. It’s weird. And new. And exciting. As you move forward, please remember this:
1. You get to choose who you are now
When this whole Covid period started, I asked you this question: Who do you want to be in the new world that emerges?
Who is this person that emerged from you? Do you like them? Are they good? Strong? Vulnerable? Compassionate? Selfish? Still a stunning work in progress?
As you answer these questions for yourself (you can answer them to others or to me or to your dog, but answers to others never matter more than answering the questions for yourself), I ask you to remember that you are a body in this world. This human experience is fundamentally tied to our flesh and our blood – and so we must take great care.
2. Your life is what you make of it
You’ve spent more than a year considering who you are and what you want. Keep the lessons learned and hold fast to the truths or this time will have been for naught.
Refuse to embrace workaholic hours again. (12 hours of work a day? Whaaat?)
Ignore the presumptuous demands that drain you beyond self-repair and plummet you into moments of despair
Refuse to doggy paddle to your death in the sea of the drowning and desperate and the unfulfilled
3. Your focus will determine your outcome
Keep your laser focus on what matters; you, your family, and love. (Remember the lesson from Toni Morrison.)
And continue to focus on your health with exercise and nutrition and your moments of true relaxation. (I highly recommend mindfulness. Get an app and learn to breathe like the hippies!)
But remember this essential existential fact:
You are not human code.
You exist in 3D goodness.
This is not a game or a movie or a dream.
This is your life. And you are a body in this world.
I love you. Good luck.
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