I wanted to tell you a sort-of ghost story as part of the Day of the Dead, but truthfully, I struggled with how to do it. How can a Dia de Los Muertos ghost be only sort-of? If they're alive.
There once was a girl who didn't much care. Didn't. She didn't take care of herself or the people she loved the way she ought to. She took much of life for granted. She walked through it without connecting-- simply blind to much of what the world and life have to offer.
Then she became ill, and went down a long, painful stretch of time where the world turned inside out. Days bled together with uncertainty and frustration. People hovered. Breathing was hard.
Slowly, s l o w l y, the misery of those days began to chip away at the not-caring girl. Her eyes opened little by little, and that life-for-granted, self-indulgent, blind person was peeled off of her. That girl died, and beneath her skins, someone else began to draw breath. Someone for whom life was magical. Someone who somehow took quiet note of each moment as it passed with reverence.
Now, life isn't always nice. It's not clean. It can be mundane. People are horrible to one another. But life is possibilities. A moment can lead in a million different directions. In times of pain, there are still trees; still wind and mountains; still fancy cars speeding by and chocolate.
Exactly ten years ago, on Dia de Los Muertos 1998, I went to the hospital and descended into the strange world where doctors don't have answers and illness and uncertainty become routine. And when I came out of that time, I had changed. It wasn't easy, and I'm certainly not saying that now I'm perfectly in tune with everything and everyone (I had a sharp reminder this weekend of that), but I do know that all in all, I am better off for living through it. The ghost-girl is gone. And although this day is meant to celebrate the life of those who have passed on, today I celebrate that it has been ten years, and I did not pass on. I grew strong, got educated and started taking note.
This is not sad at all! This is part of what made me who I am and I would not give it up for anything.
And so I celebrate that I am, like so much of my art, a work in progress.
So go here to learn a little about something that affects approximately 1 in 5,000 people.
And remember to open your eyes.