Living On The Margins

Fog, life, river
Some of us aren’t content with a simple, lovely life. We riot to live on the margins. 

Some of us can’t help but let life beat right through us, dancing in joy, writhing in disappointment , sticking its stiletto heels into our very souls.

A friend wrote, “ I realize how lucky I am, to feel everything so hard. It’s why I am an artist and it’s who I am.”

It took me a lifetime to appreciate living on the margins. In my younger days, it felt like mood swings, hormones run amok. My parents had no idea how to handle the intensity and I had no idea how to control it.  So, as any obedient young person would do, I stuffed a lid on it and became one of the soldiers; the soldiers who slay their nature and pledge allegiance to duty. I marched on, one in a million – bringing my best to whatever post called me while routinely trudging across the heart of my muse.

Until one day I didn’t.

As a deeply unhappy corporate leadership “expert” I went AWOL in a dark parking lot. After purchasing a journal, I sat in my car and wondered  what words, what story would fill its pages. Like an avalanche, the realization this one life was MINE and I had been denying my true nature rolled over me. I’d grown up to be someone everyone would approve of – everyone except me.  The disingenuousness of this insight rocked me to my core. Things had to change. Life was happening and I refused to live it safely in the middle lane. I was going to live on the margins – just as I have been created to do.

Margins Books View

After my epiphany, I learned with experience and maturity comes an ability to manage the margins. This was a skill I lacked in the early years. 

As a child I dreamt of being a poet. Early on, had I followed the passion, I may have landed in a very different place. When you live on the margins, you can slip over the edge. It’s a thrilling and treacherous place to exist. Without guidance or experience, it can take you to the depths – and that was where my poetry was born.  But, with experience we learn to navigate. We’re assured of changing circumstances. We procure emotional safety equipment that guards against the slippery terrain.

Going though big, life changes narrows the road. The margins move in, so close to one another at times we wonder if we need to back up to let life pass. Moving our home, including my creative space, has accelerated the pace and narrowed the road for me. Perhaps you find yourself driving the same crooked, little lane.

Tolle Quote VSCO

So what can we do?

I’ve made a choice to feel every hope, every disappointment, every love, every loss, fully and temporarily.  I want to sample every savory dish life has to offer – but it doesn’t mean I’ll fill my belly with rotten fare. (click to Tweet).  I’ll express my encounters through my writing and art. I’ll share them, bless them, release them; honoring life in the same way we honor one another. I’ll write an entire essay as a metaphor. Is it too late to say “sorry” for that? When I live in a place that feels ugly inside (literally, not a metaphor), I’ll take pictures of the beauty I find outside, and pair them with my writing, so I can remind myself and others about the blessings we share. And finally, because now I know we see what we look for, I‘ll look for the good in the world, in nature and in the nature of one another.

Some may say my calling was delayed for years while I denied my true nature. I used to feel like I’d wasted time. You may feel that way about your own life. But now, I don’t feel cheated at all, but enriched by the detour. Experience has given me tools, making me more confident  to approach those margins and fully, deeply, experience this life. My life.  I wouldn’t change a single thing because while it’s not always pretty, but it’s always true.

2 Replies to “Living On The Margins”

  1. I like this essay. I have been on two major detours; teaching and being a library assistant. Both have taught me much, so I am grateful. I am now semi retired. I do some volunteer work, read, do mixed media art, and write . But without those other life experiences , my writing and art wouldn’t be as rich.

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