Earlier this year, poet Gabrielle Bouliane passed away. The truth she spoke of before she died spelled out some of the most inspiring language every single person should hear, internalize, and act on. And that includes you.
At a poetry slam in Austin Gabrielle spoke out words full of meaning. She was angry and sad. She was brave and sensitive:
“One minute everything is normal. You’re worried about paying the bills, what your boss said at work that day, if you’ll ever lose that weight, take that class, get that job, toy, dress, man, whatever… and the next thing you know some stranger in a lab-coat is telling you your life expectancy is
less than a year. And nothing is the same ever again.”
This is a dreadful situation no one wants to experience, but the reality is we are all mortal and have a limited time to live. We complain, and pity ourselves. We carry the behavioral patterns of our childhood deep in our bodies. We set unrealistic goals and deny our true selves. The reality is we are so caught up in our daily lives, in our struggles, in our bullshit that we forget to live.
Gabrielle went on:“You heard it a thousand times: You only get one life. Let me rephrase it in a way that will make more sense: You’re gonna die, sometime, somehow… The only difference between me and you is that I may have an idea of when and how. And I’m lucky you know, I get to tell my parents I love them every day, I get to say goodbye to everyone, I’m in a hospice, I’ll never be in pain, I’ll just drift away like a feather in a dream some day, while you’re stuck in traffic, going to a job you never liked, cursing the people around you, dreaming your if-onlys.”
Gabrielle was right. She was lucky. Perhaps in that she saw the truth, perhaps in that she got to live a more authentic life that has shaken her out of the frenzied human existence on this planet. But why does it take a terminal disease, a life-threatening event, for so many of us to wake up from unreality? Or as Gabrielle asked:
“What are you waiting for? Why are you not being everything you can be right now?”
Say you are afraid to fail or to be rejected, that you are not ready for this, that first you need to buy or eat or do something, or maybe you worry too much, or you say to yourself that you have to be patient, that not everybody is this or that. Every person has a different answer to these questions. But all these answers are inevitably the same.
These answers are the product of the twisted lens through which we see the world. They are the result of the fear and anxiety in our bodies that are fueled by our ego-driven minds. These answers reflect a fear of life.
Smart people have developed numerous theories about this personality type or that behavior pattern. There is a race to find the perfect solution to everything. But no one book, pill, movie, or blog could make you become everything you “can be right now.” The human being is far more complex than that.
You can’t simply read these lines, or listen to Gabrielle’s passionate reading, make a decision to change your life, and wake up tomorrow morning a new person. If you believe you can, you believe in an illusion.
This is not to discount the power of our cognitive abilities. But we must face up to the reality of our being. Because reality is always slower, more painful, and more complicated than our mind would like it to be, we tend to deny it. In doing so we necessarily deny ourselves a full life. And now back to Gabrielle:
“Please, take it from a girl who’s already half-angel. Do not wait. If you don’t start today, get the fuck up, walk out that door and change your life to the best it can be then when? Are you hearing me? Don’t wait for that moment when you almost lose your life, don’t you dare waste your fucking time! I’ll be watching… The only price is letting go of your irrational fears…”
This is the truth of our being in this world. We cling to irrational fears that paralyze life. It is only by “letting go” of these fears that we can live a free and full life. But it’s even deeper than that. Becoming aware, realizing, deciding, or thinking may be the first step, but that alone cannot change the reality of our being. We must accept that these irrational fears are also physically structured in the body and that the cells of the body take time to adjust to change.
What conventional thinking fails to see is that we are not smarter than our bodies. If we seek to let go of our irrational fears and live a full and authentic life we must accept that our mind is part of our body – not in charge of it.