I was thinking about Swayze as I drove along the other night. It was a rare moment when I was by myself in the car, off to run some glamorous errand like buy formula at Walgreens or the box of 16 crayons at Staples. Free of questions about why my arm has spots, or why giraffe doesn’t start with a J, free of fights about water bottles and free of the Sofia the First Soundtrack, I found my mind wandering. It was open, the kind of open that really let’s some fresh air and light into those dusty parts that rarely get any exploration.
And so my mind turned to Swayze. She’s Like the Wind came on, which arguably is just one of the finest power ballads of 1987. I was thinking about how psyched Swayze must have been to record it, to score the part of Johnny in Dirty Dancing that same year, to recognize what a huge turning point that was in his career. In the scheme of Patrick Sawyze’s world, all of this probably meant quite a lot at the time. It probably felt like it meant everything.
And then one day he died.
To Swayze, I assume when he was dying that making this song and movie maybe mattered because he was an entertainer, and loved doing that. But to the rest of us? Oh sure, to 80s obsessed fools like myself who never put baby in the corner, Johnny Castle is important. But in the scheme of life? In the overarching history of movies itself? It doesn’t really matter that much. Not unless you are one of those true Swayze fans, the ones who even love Road House. But that’s neither here nor there.
In the beginning I imagine he must have felt like it was a really big deal because it was going to make him in the eyes of others and maybe it did, for a little while. But almost always unless you are the person that cures cancer or ebola or ends slavery, well you’re moment in the sun almost always fades. The only reason it will ever matter that you did anything is because it mattered to you, it fulfilled you. If that’s true, than it was worth it.
Because in the end we’re all like Swayze. And we’re all going to die. And most of the stuff we thought mattered will be forgotten.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is quite a lot to consider during a short drive with some lite music on your way to Walgreens. But as the sweet sounds of Swayze soul, and this suddenly and painfully obvious truth wormed its way into those dusty cerebral corners, it brought into sharp focus the idea that the only reason I should ever do anything, write anything, love anyone, pursue any relationship, idea, embrace anyone or thing is because I choose it, because it fills me up. Because the perception of anyone else’s idea of all that , of me doing all that, will almost always be irrelevant one day.
I mean one day I’ll end up like Swayze. I most certainly don’t have the cure for anything important, so all that will matter is that like him, I did and chose and loved because I thought it mattered. There is never any other reason. And when you think that way, it makes it really easy to decide who and what is going to fill your day.
So today I’m going to write, and walk and read and love. I will also drink wine, listen to 80s music, call my father and sisters, play with my kids and talk to my husband (but maybe not in that order). I’m going to fill up my day with what matters to me.
Just a little Sunday morning truth via Swayze. Choose what matters, what you love today, and let that in.