I firmly believe that any day that ends with my being dirty was a good day. The dirt can be from playing, from working hard, from having an adventure or even a misadventure. But if I come home and I’m dirty it can only mean:
- I’m safely home,
- I’m still alive, and
- I was really living. (There is a difference between merely being alive and truly living).
Getting dirty – whether in word, thought or deed – means you’ve done something to flout the straight and narrow conventions that say we must behave ourselves and be clean and in control at all times.
You’re dirty. You let go, freed yourself from the rules, and even if only for a little while, exercised a wilder you.
The other day on my way into work I stopped to greet three Rottweilers that were out with their owner having a wet, mucky romp. I know these dogs so their hello back was canine joyous and very big. I ended up covered in mud and slobber from my chin to my knees. I couldn’t have been happier.
As I walked into the office I was smiling and thinking “It’s not even 9:00 a.m. and I’m already dirty. It’s going to be a great day!” And it was.
It’s been almost four weeks since I woke up one Saturday morning, clammy, nauseated and with the room spinning. At first I thought I had a hangover. I had a whole bottle of wine (and likely more) over the course of the previous evening’s whine and cheese urban bonfire. But this was no hangover.
What was ailing me was likely a virus, exacerbated by a painfully blocked Eustachian tube from sea water in my ear and airplane travel. I had had this before and my doctor charmingly prescribed “tincture of time.” You cannot buy it. You just gotta make it.
I tortured myself by googling my symptoms and confirming my worst suspicions. I had vertigo. I had Meniere’s disease. I had multiple sclerosis. I had a big, pulsing brain tumour. Go ahead… google any random selection of symptoms and it will invariably lead you to “big, pulsing brain tumour.”
I’m finally starting to feel normal –back to walking and eating real meals. I can watch videos again without the flickering images making me nauseated and I can bend down without the room becoming a merry-go-round. I can even stay up until it’s dark! Woot!
So, my friends, this is my long way of explaining where the heck those blog posts have been AND letting you know I’m baaaaaaaack.
We were boarding our chartered bus about to start a three-week tour of Britain with 30 strangers from all over the world. My mother, surveying the group, turned to me and whispered “Watch out for the old ones. They’ve got nothing to lose!”
I laughed. At the time, I was just 26. My mother’s warning conjured images of desperate men and women cornered in a final gun battle with the police. With nothing left to lose they were capable of anything.
These old people I was about to spend nearly a month with – what kind of geriatric desperados were they? Every day they defiantly stared down the Grim Reaper. They knew each day could be their last and they sucked the life out of every moment with gusto.
These bright-eyed people with nothing left to lose had done the hard work of living – jobs, mortgages, spouses, children, in-laws and all the other myriad adult decisions we have to make in a lifetime – done and dusted.
Now they could throw all caution to the wind. Carefree and thoroughly engaged in the world, they didn’t give a damn what anyone thought or said about them. They wore whatever pleased them. Said what was on their mind. They stayed up all night talking, laughing and dancing and ate pie for breakfast, if they wanted to.
As I remember them now, those people with nothing left to lose had it all.