Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Portraits of joy

T W E N T Y - S I X - L E T T E R S
November 9th. Today marks the beginning of the last 30 days in my thirties. And it's also my dad's birthday.

I got him an unconventional gift this year, but one that simply lifted me up when I first learned about it.

I first heard about this beautiful book a few weeks back on my favorite show, CBS Sunday Morning. It was Halloween Sunday, so most of their tie-ins, unsurprisingly, were fairly macabre. But there was one that -- in nearly 700 pages -- focused on life.

"Every man dies, not every man really lives"
— William Wallace

This book and the words inside, instantly made me take a look at my own life. At his life. And all of the potential that is ahead of each of us. My dad has often said "carpe diem." But often until a tragedy or something comes along to shifts our 'norm' we aren't really, truly, compelled to do that. We forget the preciousness of life. But before I wrapped this up and took it to the post office, I skimmed over 150 little portraits
in this book of peoples lives. And in one single phrase, as if the title of a blog entry, their life was sculpted into an image:
"A knack for connecting"
"Always a song"
"Exploring the world"
"Banjos and big dreams"
"25 cats, 55 words"

Snapshots of lives interrupted.

In the forward of this beautiful book, "Portraits of Grief: 9/11," Howell Raines wrote this, "[these stories] remind us of the democracy of death, an event that lies in the future of every person on the planet. Reading these, I'm inspired by the subtle nobility of everyday existence, of the ordered beauty of quotidian life for millions of Americans."

In the intro, Janny Scott wrote, "there was something mysteriously inspiring about the portraits.... the divinity brought to the commonplace, and the preciousness of each life's path."

T
he divinity brought to the commonplace, and the preciousness of each life's path.

Yes.

That means your path. That means my dad's path. That means my path.

It made me think about my life so far and my life ahead. Am I forming it into something that is a good, strong, faithful reflection of me? Am I doing the best I can to share my insight, skills? To nourish love and friendships? Am I enjoying living my life? It served as a reminder that each of us IS here. Right now. On this planet. Living. And breathing. Now. And we have an opportunity.
We are present. That is a gift. Our life is not yet complete. The story is still writing itself.

Great song title... This is your life. Are you who you want to be?

A month from today I'll walk confidently into chapter 40 of my own story.

Why am I being so bold and sharing my age? I think age is stupid, actually. Who cares? I know people in their 90's who are younger than people in their 20's. But I'm very happy with life. With my life. Even with the stresses, anxieties, and decisions I'm faced with. I'm in a good place. I'm healthy. I'm in love. And I'm a work in progress.

And besides, the internet has pretty much done away with any sense of privacy and confidentiality, so I just thought I'd beat it to the punch. Plus, if you go back in this blog, "Bonjour y'all" which happily, friendly-ly translates to a greeting, "hey y'all," you will hopefully see a several entries that make up some of my life. Entries, that even with struggles, sadnesses, and struggles of life, still overwhelmingly paint a portrait of joy.

Wherever you are in your life, and while we can still write our story, make it a wonderful read.

I love you, Dad. Happy Birthday.
©2010 Wendy Hudgins


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