Choosing Life

One of the cultural milestones of my coming-of-age was the launch of Music Television (MTV). The music of the 1980s was different than what I was used to: not-quite-classic rock, some disco, oldies, 1940s swing and my parents’ country music. If you looked at my disc collection today—yeah, I still listen to CDs!—proportionately, the 1980s and beyond are the least represented. It seems, too, looking back, that few lasting bands actually emerged from that decade…lasting, meaning their music is something you could listen to again and again and not tire of.

Wham! is one such band. Not that their music isn’t fun for a brief excursion back in time on YouTube (along with Howard Jones, the Thompson Twins, and the Human League). But I remember them more for the clothes they wore on the “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” video that seemed a staple of early MTV.

“Choose Life,” appeared in black letters on the oversized white shirt that lead singer George Michael wore. Fashion designer Katharine Hamnett is credited with developing such shirts, and this one was meant to oppose the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Almost immediately, “Choose Life” got co-opted and brought into the sphere of political soundbite, not surprising since the phrase is soundbitey and was aimed at raising awareness around weapons that could destroy Earth who-knows-how-many-times-over.

Unfortunately, when something gets politicized, people tend to not look beyond whatever thought frame it’s coming from or whatever thought frame it pushes them into. It’s more a continuation of the drama triangle and can spark an onslaught of if-then’s.

If someone believes that decisions surrounding fertility are best left to those capable of conceiving, then that person obviously cannot be “pro-life.”

If someone sports a “choose life” bumper sticker, then obviously that person degrades the validity of women.

And so forth.

Me, I just wanted a larger, deeper reading of “Choose Life.” To choose life means to respect life and the living and the dying, because dying is part of living. At the time the phrase was being popularized, I carried out that meaning perhaps to a place of pettiness, but there it was: Someone who cut someone off in traffic, they weren’t respecting life. Someone who cut someone off on TV, they weren’t respecting life. Someone who didn’t look where they were going and maybe stepped on a spider or a slug, even, they weren’t respecting life.

On it went.

Today, I still maintain a broader reading of the phrase, but I’m a little more tolerant, recognizing that many people are asleep.

And so, today, which marks summer solstice 2012, I’ll not only be releasing my judgments around such things, but I’ll also be calling in the energies that will allow people to awaken for the highest good possible.

Awakening is painful. Becoming aware just what sort of species you are (Homo sapiens) can inspire many feelings that carry a negative energy with them: distrust, hatred, malice, ignorance (willful and the vanilla-flavored type), envy, the desire to do harm to another (any other, human and non), and short-sightedness.

Awakening can also engender love and good feelings, when we recognize that the good is at least balanced with the not-so-good, if not stronger, in most people.

Despite the pain, it’s time for us to wake up, to know our place here, to live our birthright and to act with sanity in all realms—spiritual, soulular, psychic, physical, sexual, emotional and intellectual. I dislike dividing these aspects off one from another, but doing so allows us to talk about them. They belong all together—that is part of waking up: to become fully integrated, seamless humans.

Plants can help us awaken, if we are willing to let them and if we ask them for help. I get inspiration just from being around them. By and large, most of the ones I’m acquainted with take life as it comes—anywhere it comes! Whether it’s a crack in the sidewalk or just the oomph to push up through landscaping cloth, plants are strong. They’re complex—I admire their ability to convert sunlight into food. And they are simple—they thrive as long as most of their needs are met. They’ve “been there, done that.” Without them, we would not be here, on Earth today.

So, when honoring the Sun today and all its gifts, include among the gifts the plants, the light-and-darkness-delineating hormone melatonin, which signals slumber and wakefulness, and the deep spiritual connection we have with the Green Ones. Doing so is just one small aspect of “choosing life,” but an important one just the same.

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