Movies have soundtracks. TV shows have theme songs. Products have jingles.
If they’re well-written – and even if they drive us absolutely crazy – they stick with us, and become synonymous: good or bad; charming or annoying.
- Does a particular tune (and singer) come to mind when you see the name Titanic?*
- Do you know that place “where everybody knows your name?”**
- Can you name the product that goes “plop, plop, fizz, fizz?”***
Assigning a theme song to your life isn’t a new concept, but the theme needn’t be a song. And there needn’t be just one theme.
When I look at my own life, I can break it down into a handful of themes, plus one:
Someone Else’s Story
When I was a girl and a young woman, as many waking hours as possible were spent with my nose in a book.
From Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, to Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne Shirley, to countless Harlequin and Silhouette romances, to sweeping sentimental or swashbuckling sagas of days-gone-by, and the thrill of vampires in present-day New Orleans and beyond, I immersed myself in other people’s lives.
At that time, other people’s stories were more interesting and satisfying than mine. They were, sometimes, the difference between daylight and darkness.
Do All the Things with a Mask (or, More is Better Including on Stage)
As I emerged into my mid to late twenties, and then into my early thirties, there was less time to bury myself in books, because I was busy filling every waking hour with doing as much as I could cram in.
A lot of it was work, some of it was personal, the rest of it was inhabiting other people’s stories on stage.
Three or four shows a year, with an average of 11 weeks of my calendar time devoted to each? Sure. Why not?
Also, who am I? It was hard to tell sometimes, because as I had immersed myself in books, I immersed myself in the worlds, words and characteristics of the roles I played, and those things seeped into real life.
Less is More
Ah, yes. The point at which I began to say “no,” because more was no longer better. In fact, more was downright unhealthy.
This was also the point at which, to my surprise, I found myself needing to get rid of things I’d once treasured. I was on the road to minimalism, and it reflected on other parts of my life.
Something’s Coming, Something Good
I knew I was in for positive change. I could feel it to a point where I would be moved to tears by it. I ached with its possibility, and I longed for it to come.
I didn’t realize that in order for that change to really set in, I’d have to:
- lose a job
- lose another job
- lose my home
- lose another job
- lose my health to the point of almost losing my life
I thought I’d already hit “rock bottom” before those losses, and more than once. I was wrong, and I doubt it will be the last time.
Go Big or Go Home
It may sound grand. I assure you, it isn’t. This theme – my current theme – reminds me that if I want to honor that “something good,” now that I know what it is, I have to go big in the sense that I must:
- let go of all learned behaviors and concepts that don’t align with my true life path (note: it helps when circumstances pull a lot of those rugs out from under your feet)
- let go of money as anything other than a system of exchange (note: it helps when your bank balance is in the low double – sometimes single – digits)
- let go of the idea that having my own home is as important as I still like to think it is, because in order to have my own home, I’d have to revert to a way of being that was killing me (note: it helps when the things that would fill that home don’t even fill a 5×10 storage unit, and your best address is a P.O. box)
Big, then, is more about being the stripped-down version of me, which brings me to…
Enough and True
These are the dual themes that represent “something good.” These are the themes I’m transitioning into. While I’m not fully there yet, I catch glimpses – bright, luminescent sneak-peeks – of what my life may be like when I arrive.
- I will be enough. (I am enough!)
- I will have enough. (I have enough!)
- I will be 100% true to myself in all situations, and with all people. (I am 100% true to myself in all situations, and with all people!)
Until then, I do my best, day by day, to embrace this chrysalis stage, as painful as it can sometimes be.
It’s Your Turn
What’s your life theme?
Is there one, or do multiples run through your timeline, too?
If you could choose a life theme, what would it be?