Oh me! Oh life! by Walt Whitman
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Dead Poet's Society where I was first introduced to this poem written by Walt Whitman. Robin Williams' character brings poetry to life and the movie does a brilliant job of helping the audience feel poetry and by extension, life. I felt as if the characters were reaching through the screen to grab me by the neck, shake me from my slumber, and scream at me to wake up and stop sleepwalking through life.
Life is a gift; a precious gift. Too often so many of us treat life as if it were a burden and something to endure.
In September of 1997 I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma. Skin Cancer at the age of 27. The five days I waited to find out the stage of my cancer were a roller coaster of emotions. I couldn't keep my mind from imagining being told I only had six months to live. Then I would slowly talk to myself, convincing myself I could beat the odds no matter the diagnosis. I remember one day in that five day waiting period eating an entire half gallon of ice cream because, well... I love ice cream and I thought if I was going to die, then screw it! That certainly is one response and another is to instead "seize the day." Carpe Diem!
Fortunately, my cancer was early stage two and with surgery and checkups I would become cancer free. At the same time, I was given a gift; a reminder not to take life for granted. Not everyone diagnosed with a life threatening illness gets off as easy as I did.
Eight months ago I was introduced to an organization called the Front Row Foundation, an organization that creates front row experiences for people diagnosed with life threatening illness and disease. Front Row is an incredible group of people who bring joy to so many people at a time when they desperately need a lift and a change of perspective.
What I did not expect however is the positive impact Front Row has on those of us not diagnosed with terminal illness. In addition to being a non-profit fundraising organization, Front Row is also a mindset. It's a way of viewing life and deciding to live life experiencing and creating front row moments for ourselves and others. It's about living with intention, being present, and experiencing all that is wonderful about life. If you want to dive deeper into this life-enhancing mindset check out the book, "The Front Row Factor: Transform Your Life with the Art of Moment Making" by Jon Vroman.
Every day we are given a gift. Every day is an opportunity to experience truly amazing moments and to appreciate simply being alive!
That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.
What will your verse be?