Adventures in Culture and Travel

30 April, 2009

A Defining Moment - life not lived, isn't really life at all.

Job Description: Be you!
I've had a lot of defining moments in the last two years. Pivotal experiences which have shaped my life. I've traveled, I've buried loved ones. I grew up from a child into a woman. All these events have shaped me in to the person I am. If I had the chance to meet my former self of just a few short years ago, I would be unrecognizable to myself. I'm the product of someone else's choices who I no longer claim to be. Then when I lost my job, and lost my family, I thought I had lost myself. It took a random encounter with a sword throwing acrobat to make me realize what really mattered wasn't the parts of you or your life you lose, it's the changes that make you who you are right now that matter.

As humans we're always in flux, in a constant state of change. Recently I found myself changed by a complete stranger. Simply by realizing someone you don't know can have this sort of power over you is a perspective changer, it's humbling, perhaps frightening. This person, a busker, doesn't know who I am, nor do I know her identity, but it's shaped my outlook going forward and has inspired me. I now know by what I do, I too can inspire change.

 She was in London, and I had just arrived after a surgery, a burial of my grandmother, and a single call that brought me to Covent Garden that day.

 While standing over my grandmother's casket, my cell phone rang, and it was my human resources manager telling me I was fired. The story is long, and rather quite humorously sad in retrospect, but ultimately it was likely due to my co-habitation with the love of my life, another woman. I've reluctantly come to this conclusion based on several private meetings where she witnessed her belief that, quote, "lesbians can't have their cake and eat it too" from her office adorned with no less than a dozen crosses. This of course referring to my denied health-care claim (my first ever) for the surgery, because of the company's policy on domestic partners.

Yet it was that event that brought me here, unemployed no less, to a somewhat poetically named place called "Shepherd's Bush Market." Fate had brought me to London where I was throwing caution to the wind and breaking from the chains of corporate slavery. No longer bound by the tether of a desk-phone, I had absolutely no plan beyond what the next step in front of me when she came into my life. A beautiful, young woman wielding no less than eight swords in a leotard, while hanging upside down from a trapeze bar held up by four audience volunteers. Mind you, she was doing this all to the theme song from 'Flash Dance'. As she spun around the bar, smiling, her hair in pursuit, flowering out in defiance of the peril at any second- I pondered how miserable I had been at my former job.

She, of course, didn't have a boss to advise her of the safety risk, nor a cubicle to silence her screams of frustration. She was not leashed to a phone cord, nor worried that the random complete stranger holding up the apparatus with which her life depended on would simply walk away. She's juggling swords, creating beauty and art, yet a month ago I was afraid of calling in sick because I might lose my menial little job and be forced to cancel cable. She loved what she was doing, it made her happy- it made the audience happy. When is the last time you did anything at work that made hundreds of people smile at the same time. For the first time since I was terminated, a smile came to my face. She had inspired me.

It was that moment, that defining moment, which brought me to the realization that life not lived, isn't really life at all.

The mere happenstance of events that brought me to be into her company that day and to realize that simple little epiphany has provided me more self-reassurance than the years I spent working towards the American dream. There in that moment I realized I had to let go of all those things holding me back. My job, perhaps even my house, and all those things I had previously chosen as measurements of my success.  Now I knew that no matter what job I lost, what residence I may lose, and no matter where I find myself in this wonderful, crazy world, I should never surrender perspective of the one thing you truly ever really need to live... you.