Join Prism Book Alliance® as Brandon Witt goes Outside the Margins today.
I’ve reached that age, at the ancient year of thirty-seven, where mortality is more tangible than ever. Even as I kid, I wasn’t really under any assumption that I would live forever. I barely remember a time when Cancer wasn’t stealing away someone in my family. Death seemed close. Hated, but familiar. Add that with a constant fear that the Rapture was scheduled to happen at any moment and that I’d be left behind (remember the book 88 reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988? I was ten that year) and this life always seemed temporary, and terrifying.
Still, despite all of that, as I sense the growing awareness of my mortality, I admit that I must have felt somewhat untouchable, immortal. Death couldn’t really take me. I had things to do. Goals to meet.
Well. Now, at the ripe old age of thirty-seven, I’ve seen several of my graduating class die (and there weren’t that many of us to begin with), both from accidents and disease. I’ve seen children in my school die of accidents and disease. I’ve had past-students die in gang violence. I’ve reached the age where my friend’s parents are leaving us, turning us into the oldest generation of our families. Which means, we’re next.
And, I’ve accomplished some big goals. Used to, I said I would be satisfied if I could just have one book published. That would be enough. Well, we all know how that goes. Now I have much larger goals. But I no longer have the delusion that I am safe until those goals are met. Hell, I’m writing this on a plane, having just read a scene in a John Inman novel where the villain dies in a very descriptive plane crash. Let me tell you, being several miles in the air makes that scene even more powerful. (This original post was supposed to have very little to do with death. You can blame John Inman for my current dark mood. Damn you for being such an impactful writer, Mr. Inman.)
The point of this post was supposed to be cheery, encouraging. The inspiration for it was a Christmas tree for crying out loud. Well, whatever, you’re used to me being dark.
Nearly a week ago, around the 18th of October, I set up my Christmas tree. It will be my first Christmas in my new house, and let me tell you, a Christmas tree in a 700 sq. ft. house really clues you in on every inch of your floor space. It’s actually very glowy and cozy in my home at the moment.
I’d learned from years past to put a warning on Facebook that I was about to put up the Christmas tree. Before, I’d just post pictures and people would go apeshit. Offer all types of unasked for comments, suggestions, and judgments. None of them meant any harm, but I’m a bit of opposition-defiant personality, so those things don’t sit well with my bad attitude. I know, I know. I could just avoid putting a post on Facebook until a more appropriate time, but surely you know that if you don’t post every aspect of your life on Facebook, it doesn’t really exist? The tree would be up for a month or more before I could enjoy it, because it hadn’t really happened until there was photo proof for the world to see. (Dear Lord, I wish I were kidding, don’t you?)
Anyway…. The warning post worked. People were allowed to be aghast, discussing, teasing, and overjoyed, and it was all okay. It became this big joke on my page, and it made it rather fun. My self-centered neuroses were not triggered. Shocking.
A couple of people, after I posted the photo of the tree set up, asked why I felt the need to do such a thing. (They asked in a very nice and polite, non-triggering way, btw.)
My main answer was this: Because I want to.
That got me thinking about myself. There goes that egomaniacal part of myself again.
The older I get, the happier I become. (Yes, the current stress about how I’m going to pay bills and fear over a writing career failure currently has me waking up in a stress terrors, typically around 4 AM, but whatever.)
I realize, I’ve made this kind of a life motto.
Because I want to.
Granted, there are limits to this, even for me. Does my Want hurt anyone? That truly is a factor.
Is it illegal? Sometimes that a factor, sometimes I don’t care.
Do my wants conflict? Often.
Example. I love Denver. However, if I had total freedom, I’d probably choose to move all over the country. I’d like to live in New York, Seattle, Boston, San Diego, Hawaii. However, I also love my nephew more than anything in the world and want to be there for him and support his life. These two desires do not go together. However, I do have the freedom to choose. I choose him. Therefore, I am bound to Denver for the next couple of decades at least.
But, beyond that, as long as we are caring about the ones who mean the most to our souls, I believe we all should live life by simply saying, “Because I want to.”
Why did I stay home instead of going to the big party everyone else was going to, even though it makes me look like a anti-social hermit? Because I want to.
Why do I let artist drag ink filled needles across my skin? Because I want to.
Why did I leave a decent paying career with great benefits to risk everything for this oft-dismissed gay book genre? Because I want to. (Ok, that was more of I HAVE to, souls can dictate.)
Why do I ignore all the slut-shaming and live life the way I choose? Because I want to.
Why do I eat mayonnaise and cheese sandwiches even though most of the world says that is gross? Because I want to.
I think you get the picture.
We all, no matter what our age, are mortal. And whether we have 25 years (I can’t make myself type younger) on this earth or 105, those years are finite.
So, I encourage you. Ask yourself what you really want. In the big things and the small things. And after you are certain they won’t hurt those you love the most, do them.
Let the world think you’re crazy or weird or eccentric or look at you like you haven’t showered in days. Who gives a shit? These are your days, your moments for light, joy, risk, and beauty.
I hope your answer is always: Because I want to.
That really is reason enough.
About Brandon Witt
Brandon Witt resides in Denver, Colorado. When not snuggled on the couch with his two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan, he is more than likely in front of his computer, nose inches from the screen, fingers pounding they keys. When he manages to tear himself away from his writing addiction, he passionately takes on the role of a special education teacher during the daylight hours.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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