Baby, You’re a Firework

The first time I ever heard Katy Perry’s Firework, I loved it. Hell, I may have even gotten a little misty-eyed listening to the lyrics. If you’re not familiar, take a moment to watch the video. If you are familiar, watch it anyway, because it’s just a good one.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been there–at the end of my rope, rock bottom, in hell, whatever you want to call it–that a song like Perry’s hits a little closer to home. If you know me now, you might never guess my life was ever so miserable. Hell, if it weren’t for the battle scars, I might not believe it myself.

But the truth is, I spent a lot of years dancing very close to the edge and hoping for a miracle.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that there was no miracle. There was no magical elixir, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, no miracle cure that I could hunt and track and chase down anywhere outside of myself. What I didn’t realize was that there was nothing wrong with my life or the world around me. The problem was me.

See, life has a way of getting you down if you let it. It’s easy to play the victim when the deck seems to be stacked against you. It’s easier to just roll over and wallow in the pain than to stand up and deal with it and fix things. And somehow, the pain just gets comfortable. You wrap it around yourself, like a blanket, insulating yourself from the rest of the world. It keeps you from getting too close to people. It keeps you from feeling much of anything at all.

At some point, we’re faced with a choice–let the pain overcome us and quit trying, or muster our last ounces of strength and courage and fight.

It’s amazing how different life looks after you’ve come back from the dead with a second chance.

There’s so much beauty in the world. So many good things to be thankful for. So many people who can teach us valuable lessons, if only we’d take the time to really look and listen. Perry’s right. We’re all fireworks. We’ve all got a uniquely beautiful spark within us. We’ve all got something to offer. We’re all here on this earth, right now at this moment, to do something extraordinary. We’re here to learn, to love, to listen, and to let our lights shine.

Anything less, and you’re wasting your time. So get out there people, and shine.

Hold On

“I know what I have to do now. And, I keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?” – Cast Away (Tom Hanks)

There are still some days I wonder how the hell I got here, how I made it at all. I think if you were to sit and make a list and really tally it all up, you would be shocked that I ever made it to my 21st birthday.

And yet somehow, in spite of all my self-destructive behavior and my bad decisions and my blatant attempts to put an end to my own misery, I survived. My friends and family clung to me and refused to let me go. My heart kept beating. I kept breathing in and out. And life kept moving me forward, pushing me toward something I could neither see nor understand.

Pain is a funny thing. It grabs hold of you. It seeps into your pores and spreads like cancer, burrowing so deeply into your soul that you forget what life was like without it.

I spent a lot of years swallowing my pain, burying it deep. Like many people, I fooled myself into thinking that I could hide it, keep it locked inside and forget about it. The thing about pain is, it always finds its way out. Sooner or later, it always comes bubbling to the surface.

You can’t ignore pain. You can’t fight it. You can’t wish it or medicate it away. It took years for me to figure that out, and I was nearly destroyed (more than once) in the process. The only way to find relief from the pain you carry is to confront it, head on, to stand up to it, face it, embrace it, and let it go.

Pain is shortsighted. It blinds you from seeing anything beyond it. It blurs the bigger picture. And the hardest thing to realize when you’re caught up in it, is that pain is temporary. It won’t last forever. It can’t rain all the time. Wait long enough and the sun will return.

Hold on. Because someday, you’re going to see the bigger picture, and it’s going to take your breath away.

Here’s a glimpse I got of mine…

Yeah, that was worth waiting for. 🙂

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