Have you ever been to a ghost town? You see the saloon and can picture it with card games going on and drinks being slid down the bar to thirsty patrons. The hoofbeats of horses maybe bringing strangers into town, the scurry to safety if a gunfight breaks out, breaking glass, swishing skirts, laughter and tears. Lives lived and lost all as rich and complicated, full of joy and strife, as your own. And those people who once lived there, chugging their whiskey and loading their pistols—they’re gone. Their time came…..and went.
In Dead Poet’s Society, John Keating (played by Robin Williams) encourages his young students to remember that life is short and that they need to live fully now:
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish…what good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here—that life exists, and identity, that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
We dance because, for now, we inhabit these bodies and it is joyful to get lost in the beauty of music and move to its rhythms. We sing because we have a song. We love because that’s what life is all about. Isn’t it?