A Legendary Life
This past weekend I witnessed a legend. Willie Nelson, 89 years old, in concert, sounding just like always, as spirited and engaging as ever. He was accompanied by his 32 year old son, who sounded very much like Willie, the two clearly enjoying each other.
In the days after, I’ve been thinking about a legendary life, and what if life is far shorter than 89 years. What constitutes a legendary, full and well-lived life?
This past Friday I celebrated my 48th birthday. Perhaps this is why I find myself contemplating life in this way. Will I be singing in concert when I’m 89? That’s highly doubtful, and of course, impossible to know if I’ll even be around for another 41 years. So I fill myself up with the fullness of what is and has been. Perhaps this is a self-soothing idea, but I like to think each of us is a legend to someone, and we are all of value simply because we are alive. Perhaps my definition of a legend is to have been fully here in the time given.
As I considered this, I started contemplating all the times I’ve ventured out “on the road again” and how these experiences have been legendary. Forgoing the promise of a magazine job after college to pack my faded red Volkswagon with clothes, flipflops, camera, and a journal, and move to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for late night shifts at a pub with mountains of fried seafood, drunk locals, and loud bands. Then four years later, packing myself up for a new adventure in Rhode Island—an adventure that would lead me to my husband, my MFA degree, teaching college. Until I was off on the road again to West Virginia, my children, a yoga studio, and the life I’ve grown into now.
Certainly, these adventures were full of missteps, stops and starts. But maybe those are the stuff of a legendary life too. Learning to meander and live for the sake of living is quite a feat, I think, one that feels legendary. Learning to celebrate life, to find the rhythms and rituals that connect us with others, opening our hearts to humans and to life with all its hard and not so hard feelings—well, this all feels legendary indeed.
Ok, Willie Nelson, you surely are a legendary musician, but I’m settling into celebrating my own legendary life—without stardom or a big performance stage. Maybe it’s a whole lot simpler to do so than one might think.
After Spending the Morning Baking Bread by Jack Ridl Our cat lies across the stove's front burners, right leg hanging over the oven door. He is looking into the pantry here his bowl sits full on the counter. His smaller dish, the one for his splash of cream, sits empty. Say yes to wanting to be this cat. Say yes to wanting to lie across the leftover warmth, letting ir rise into your soft belly, spreading into every twitch of whisker, twist of fur and cell, through the Mobius strip of your bloodstream. You won't know you will die. You won't know the mice do not exist for you. If a lap is empty and warm, you will land on it, feel an unsteady hand along your back, fingers scratching behind your year. You will purr.
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