Six years ago, I left behind everything familiar and comfortable and moved 3,000 miles from rural small-town Massachusetts to Los Angeles, California. Naively, I never foresaw the impact such a move would have on my life. I knew it would be big, but I didn’t know how big. I didn’t know how it would bend and break me almost to a point of snapping and how it would free me of everything I’d been told was true. I didn’t know when I arrived in Los Angeles, wide eyed and full of energy that only comes when we’re pushing ourselves to our limits, that I’d chase the high I felt in those first few months forever.
Sometimes, in quiet moments of reflection that slink dangerously close to depression, I’m afraid that I’ll spend the rest of my life chasing that high. I can’t quiet explain the sense of wonderment and possibility I felt, somehow elevated from earth, my toes dangling just above the ground. If I ever find a way to bottle that feeling, I’ll give a vial to everyone I know because there’s no feeling quite like it. Everything was new and sparkling.
I was new and sparkling.
I was living in a room I’d sublet from someone in Van Nuys, deep in the Valley. It was crammed full of her belongings. There was barely room for my two suitcases, and I slept on a tiny twin bed, crawling into it every night exhausted with happiness. I ate what I could afford, which amounted to one packet of oatmeal for breakfast, some salad mix for lunch, and a cake pop from Starbucks for dinner. My body was fueled solely on adrenaline. I’ve never been happier. I’ve never been so alive. I remember so clearly tumbling into bed one night, after a date with a man that made my head spin, and writing down a list of “rules” for life. I’ve gone back to it so many times throughout the six years since that night, and every time I read it, I can almost feel what I felt then. They’re all things that push me and the commonality is that each one is something that leaves me slightly uncomfortable and exhausted with emotion – whatever that emotion may be. They’re still the truest words I’ve ever written and they’re just as relevant now as they were then.
I don’t know if I’ll ever feel so reborn again, and if I don’t, it’s okay because at least I felt it once. I know deep down, that if I only ever get to feel it once in this lifetime, it will be enough to sustain me throughout the years. It will be a feeling I’ll still be able to access lying in bed when I’m old and ready to leave this world, that will remind me how I really LIVED.
And that’s all we’re here to do, really.
Rules for a well lived life:
1. Laugh until your mouth muscles hurt and your stomach aches.
2. Fall down in front of a lot of people.
3. Run around in the rain with no shoes and let the mud seep between your toes.
4. Dream, then act.
5. Go ahead and put all of your eggs in one basket, that’s called faith, and faith is brave.
6. Embarrass yourself once every day.
7. Have a sense of humor.
8. Don’t be afraid of getting dirty or getting bruises.
9. Tell a joke and forget the punchline, marry the person who laughs anyway.
10. Pick one flower, put it behind your ear, and leave the rest.
11. Get lost.
12. Practice the art of doing nothing.
13. Fall in love with yourself before attempting to fall in love with anyone else.
14. When you stub your toe, let a cuss word rip.
15. Get high.
16. If you aren’t sorry, don’t apologize.
17. Date the wrong one just for fun, but not for keeps.
18. Read in the grass.
19. Blow bubbles.
20. Think with your head first, then think with your heart and forget your head.
21. Kiss someone who makes you feel like you’re going downhill on a roller coaster.
23. Put blinders on sometimes and forget your peripheral vision exists.
24. Deliberately seek out things that give you the butterflies.
25. Road trip.
26. Dig your toes in and refuse to budge.
27. Surround yourself with people who will help you when you don’t know how to ask for help.
28. Believe in soul mates. Don’t be so naïve as to think it has to be the person you marry, but you’re lucky if it is.
29. Play to play, not to win.
30. Be nice.
31. Believe in something bigger than us.
32. Let fate do what it does.
33. Dance a little in the way you walk.
34. Be wary of people who hold their cards too close.
35. Be a little reckless with money.
36. Listen to your favorite song until you hate it.
37. If you ever wonder about a persons true character, push them into a pool fully clothed.
38. Give great hugs.
39. If you want to know the truth about a situation, ask a child or a teenager; everyone else considers your feelings before answering.
40. Give second chances, sometimes third, but never fourth.
41. Master the art of conversation.
42. Find your outlet.
43. Be slightly enigmatic.
44. Be unapologetically confident, but not cocky.
45. Let people tell you their stories, and listen closely.
46. Understand that romantic love is foolish and fleeting, and fall in love anyway.
47. Hold hands.
48. Remember that we are one atom away from ceasing to exist; therein lies the proof and the possibility of miracles.