I watched a documentary last night. It made me think on a lot of things. It made me think about the rights we give women to choose how they live their lives. It made me think about the worth of a life and when it is summed up. It made me wonder...what value is there in what we do, from how it is viewed or judged, to how we view and judge ourselves, to that refreshing feeling when we have finished a long life of doing the right thing and making a difference...or not.
In twenty six years I have repeatedly flipped back and forth between a driving passion that has both validated me in retrospect and also left me without time to dwell on my insecurities, my inferiority... and an overwhelming realization when things slow down that, well, it wasn't worth anything. That no one is better off.
It's hard to say which, if either, makes me feel...happy.
There's a value in keeping busy. There's a numerical value in seeing an extensive checklist scratched off, top to bottom, daily. There's an emotional value in seeing a difference made in another life, be it a smile or something grandiose and life changing. There's a mental value in hiding from one's self-evaluation by never leaving time for it.
There is also a certain value in stepping back, checking in with a quiet reality, and scanning over one's purpose in the world. There's a humbling value in seeing a broader perspective. There's a value in bettering oneself by noting that one has not been bettered at all. There's a social value in checking one's positive or negative impact on those one cares about.
But what is MY value?
At the end of the day, at the end of my life, what value do I have, and who tallies it?
If there is the smallest chance that the value of my self worth, my self evaluation, my opinion, is of miniscule proportion to the world close and distant, then it must be counted by someone else.
So who is that someone else?
Is it my husband? My son? My mother? My friends? My boss or my coworkers? Who judges me when my years run out and determine if I was a success? If I had more to do? If I did too much, and never LIVED my life?
I look to music. When I have to face myself - when it's too late at night, or there isn't anything else I can force myself to do, I find my introspection and my perspective in music. Maybe the music is judging me, but if it is, I have a lot to learn from it.
I hear, "When they put me in the ground, I'll start pounding the lid, saying I haven't finished yet."
I hear, "What if I've always been good enough in my skin?"
I hear, "I'm getting tired and I need someone to rely on."
I hear, "They don't know who I really am, and they don't know what I've been through."
I hear, "I'll be fine in a minute."
Music lays me down. Music embraces me closely and keeps me warm. Music knows me better than you do, and when it's dark, when you've gone to bed, when I am alone once again, music helps me to cry, helps me to breathe, helps me to face what I have lost.
On those nights, when I realize that I stopped living in April of 2012, music reminds me that we all have loss, we all have grief, we all have hope and love and fatigue and anger and a long, long way still to walk.
When we stop walking
When we stop breathing
Music sings and cries over our bodies
And to those we leave behind, it helps them discover in themselves a way to grieve, to hope, to love...to keep walking. To keep breathing.