The thing about living is that it’s best done when alive. Scary thing about that is, on this Earth you’ve got one shot to get it done. My mom asked me to write a blog about what it means to “truly live” and I thought, “Well what do I know? I’m a 23 year old college grad with a desk job.” But the more I thought about it, the more excited I became. I’m an English major. I read books for a living in college, and if I learned anything from that experience it is that every life is extraordinary because every life is a story and it comes down to how you frame it. Take for example Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. It’s the story of four girls who turn into women. Literally, that’s the plot. Yet somehow it has become a classic and enduring novel whose shelf life seems never to expire. The girls aren’t practicing magic or going on wild adventures where dragons are slain and princesses saved, but rather girls growing up, finding jobs, realizing simple dreams, and falling in love. How can a book about growing up with a house full of obnoxious sisters possibly be one of the most fantastic novels ever written? Simple, the characters are relatable, realistic and unique. The characters come to life; they play out our stories as they live their own.
When we think about “truly living” we envision sold-out amphitheaters full of doe-eyed men and women listening to some sycophantic, self-help guru. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, we have this idea of an extreme lifestyle full of skydiving, saving orphans from impoverished countries, traveling the world and eating bizarre foods off sticks. And while that’s all well and good (and bizarre stick foods aside, all things I would love to do at some point) these are not the only ways to think about this concept. Truly living does not have to mean going to seminars or changing your favorite hobby from baseball-with-your-kids to free-climbing rock walls in the Himalayans. To truly live I assert that you need to do a handful of easily accomplishable things:
1. Be alive.
2. Love openly and be loved.
3. Do something you love—be it your career or a hobby.
4. Listen to the stories of others and have the creative license to write your own.
If we are to revamp our idea of what it means to be truly alive then let’s do it right and with vigor. Take time to sit down and think about your story. What’s the plot of your life? Who are the supporting characters and how do they fit into it? What’s your adventure, your romance, drama and your twist? This is your autobiography, what will your life sound like when you read it out loud? There is nothing wrong with a desk job if it supports a fabulous plot. In fact, there is nothing wrong with working outside your passion so long as it plays a supporting role. There is nothing wrong with pretending you’re not a grown up every once in a while. Yes, I know you secretly enjoy watching Tangled with your kids, what’s wrong with that? As we age we have a tendency to lose our ability to think creatively and outside-the-box. Don’t be afraid to reclaim that.
So what I’m saying is go and be truly alive: at home, at work, in the grocery store and in the park. Take note of the minutia, it’s the background of your story. Respect the people around you, they are your supporting characters and without them your story means nothing. Enjoy your work or move on because it is a major piece of your setting. Recognize your goals; they are the crux of your plot. In short, this is your story. Go write it.
Elizabeth Moore, daughter of Nancy Moore, founder The Porch Company