Last night, I took my 12 year old son to see a high school musical version of RENT. Jonathan Larson’s RENT is probably my favorite musical. I saw it first as a young adult in Boston and then later on Broadway before it finally closed. It is hard for me to get tunes like “Seasons of Love” and “I’ll Cover You” (especially Collins’ reprise at Angel’s funeral) out of my head. I feel like each song weaves together the voice of a generation of young people declaring, I’m me. It’s OK to love. It’s OK to feel. It’s OK to care. No need to make apologies for who you are or for who you love. One of the biggest messages I always take away from this musical is to not live life with regrets–there’s no day but today. As Mimi sang,
There is no future
There is no past
I live this moment
As my last
There’s only us
There’s only this
Or life is yours to miss
No other road
No other way
No day but today
So, I woke up this morning reflecting on a few ways to live for today that I thought I’d share:
1) Tell and show someone you care for and love them deeply. Sometimes we let our pride, or our ego, get in the way of expressing our love to those near and dear to us. We’re afraid to be vulnerable or to show signs of weakness. I say, get over it! And, get over yourself! Loving and caring for others does not make you weak. In fact, it makes you strong. And, it’s even better when you do so unconditionally, without judgment, and without expectation. I spent a great deal of my life giving love or caring for others because I wanted them to care for me back. It doesn’t work that way. I had to learn to love myself first which then allowed me to love others authentically. When you do this, you experience love abundantly. Trust.
2) Which brings me to my second point, Be yourself and love that person. We wear the mask, carrying everyone else’s definitions for who we ought to be. Be a good mom. Be a perfect wife. Be an accomplished scholar. Be a devoted daughter. Notice I placed loaded adjectives before each of these roles that I occupy. Sometimes they’re neatly interconnected and other times they are fiercely in opposition of one another. But, I am all of these things, for good and bad. I’ve learned to drop and reject the adjectives. I’ve learned that I can only be me in any given moment, flaws and all. I accept and embrace the various ways that I enact these roles, and I look forward to the variety that each offers my life. I’m doing me and loving it. As Millie Jackson sang, you gotta, gotta, gotta Be Yourself!
3) Do something you’ve always wanted to do. What is holding you back? Living for today means letting go of fear. Sometimes, we hold on to past hurts and experiences in ways which hinder us from moving forward. The past becomes a crutch, an excuse for not moving forward or trying something new, something different. The past fuels your fear. I guess I just don’t want to leave this earth saying, I wish I had… or Why didn’t I…? There’s no day but today and I refuse to live with regrets. Now, I don’t plan to be ratchet, but I can allow for a little reckless abandon every once in a while.
RENT inspires me every time I see it. Now, I’m getting on with living each moment as my last.
As a side note, interestingly, my son was less concerned with the statements on love, sexuality, and identity and more so on issues of sexual health and AIDS/HIV (mostly spawned by his recent curiosity about human species and sexual reproduction). Just a reminder to talk about sexual health as a part of self-love.