These lines from Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” provoke some reflection about life and relationships, about things lost and things gained as we move through our lives, and how we respond to it all.
There of course is a natural process to life and living. On an organic level we are born into the world, grow (gain), decline (lose) and finally die. Most of us want to spend the intervening years building and creating, seeking and discovering what we can do, in the hopes of making a difference in our life and world. All in all, the changes balance as parts of our life are lost in the attempt to gain something greater. Some might say becoming the best version of yourself.
It is amazing and admirable to see those who embrace their passions. Watching faces light up and hearing the excitement in their voices as they show off their flower garden, perform with a band, share photos and videos of hiking trails they have explored. Heck, even watching someone get excited about demolishing a house is thrilling. Steve Irwin, “The Crocodile Hunter,” was someone who exemplified this spirit to the end of his life. People living every day.
What about those who seem content to sit on the sidelines? Those who, for whatever reasons, avoid doing, creating, discovering the person they were meant to be? In other words, those who hold back (even a little) from truly living every day? Perhaps they don’t want to be where they are, but are unsure that the gain is worth the loss.
Part of it may be fear. Fear of creating something in their life that may change them in some way, and not quite knowing how to handle it when it happens. In the pursuit of a passion, the energy and drive it takes to learn the craft may move them away from people and places of comfort. Oh my gosh, they may even need to expand their world a bit (or a lot) in order to fully embrace that thing that makes them feel happy, content, successful, fulfilled, or just want to get out of bed in the morning. Longtime friends and even family may not understand the changes they see. It can make them fearful of losing those connections.
Part of it may be that the passion they want to follow involves massive action on their part. A gardener does not become a master in a week or a month or even a year. Proficiency with a keyboard or guitar is not acquired overnight. Taking a trek along the Pacific Crest Trail requires more than a good pair of hiking boots and a canteen. Making a choice to pursue something they have only dreamed about involves learning and growing; breaking old habits by replacing them with the mindset and actions which will prepare them for the greater and grander life they want. It requires commitment and change if they hope to be really living every day.
The question comes down to a willingness to risk going all in and accepting the internal challenges that must be faced in order to create a life that matters not only to them, but others as well. It is a willingness to risk being thought strange when placing their feet on a path different from those who accept them as they are.
In embracing the changes that will naturally happen in life and making choices to create an exceptional life, people may be lost, but perhaps only briefly. The reality is that those who will remain lost are likely those who were never really deeply connected to us in the first place. It is certain that the old self will be lost; old habits and attitudes will be lost, but the gain is so much sweeter as we truly will be living every day.