Do you ever get the feeling that your life is incomplete? Despite making the right choices in the eyes of your friends and family, do you find yourself shuffling listlessly through your days, bemoaning your humdrum existence, and wishing like hell you could find something, ANYTHING, to make you feel ALIVE again?
Stop nodding so hard–you’ll give yourself whiplash. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Brian, and up until very recently, I was a zombie. No, not in The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, “I’m going to eat your BRAIIINS!” sense, (photographic evidence to the contrary be damned) but I certainly wasn’t LIVING. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but somewhere between college and complacency, I made a wrong turn. Without fully realizing it, I had become one of Teddy Roosevelt’s “cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been exceptionally blessed. I’m married to an incredible, beautiful woman who still makes my heart pound harder than a jackhammer whenever she walks into the room. I’m father to a delightful son who is as whip-smart as he is compassionate and funny. I own a gorgeous home in a safe neighborhood that, thanks to a steady day job, I’m in no danger of losing. I’m living the American dream, so why in the blue fuck aren’t I happier?
The answer came to me in an inspired performance by Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs on Live on Letterman in May, 2011. If you’re a fan of Ray’s raspy, soulful voice, or just folk and blues in general, you’ll love this:
One verse in particular hit me in the jaw with a crowbar:
It’s not living that you’re doing if it feels like dying.
In that instant, every late-night conversation, every heart-stopping scene, every melancholy verse I’d ever seen or heard converged in my mind, a cacaphony of carpe diem. I had no earthly idea what my life’s purpose was, but I knew the path I was travelling on was taking me further away with each step.
That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Like Ray tells us, “There’s nothing in the world so sad as talking to a man./Never knew his life was his for making.” I’d been so busy making a living that I’d forgotten how to live. I’d awakened from my zombielike trance, and no matter how uncomfortable the truth staring at me felt, I couldn’t allow myself to descend back into that inky darkness.
No more lying to myself.
No more excuses.
No more letting life slip away.
What will you do today?