Mary Lucia: Are you living the life you chose?


Jason Isbell
Jason Isbell (courtesy A Prairie Home Companion)

I was listening to Jason Isbell's song, "The Life You Chose," and the lyrics that stuck in my brain were:

"Are you living the life you chose?
Are you living the life that chose you?
Are you taking a grown-up dose?"

Good questions, Jason. Let's think about that for a minute.

Is living the life you chose always possible? I'll say to some degree, yes. The life I want is far from perfect. Perfect is predictable and uninteresting to me. It's also unattainable, so let that go. Too many outside sh*t storms will try and get in the way. But at least having the imagined blueprint for your life is a mercurial and wonderful thing.

We can choose how we react to monkey wrenches thrown into our chosen life. Living life isn't an exact science, as we all know; we're emotional and vulnerable and flawed, thank God. So there is nothing more frustrating than catching yourself reacting in a way you don't like. On the other hand, it's got to be a valuable lesson to see what our authentic selves do when cornered by adversity. To live engaged in the world NOW, as it is.

How can we use that disappointment while maintaining the integrity we know we are capable of? I'd rather not wake up every morning and clean cat vomit, but I do it. Right?

Now, all of this is moot if, say, the life you chose is to be the world's biggest jerk.

The flipside of Jason's first question — living the life that chose you — is also tricky to navigate. Inherent genetic predispositions aside, does this imply we are too passive or limited to redirect where we want our lives to be? Are we too afraid to even envision what that could look like?

Circumstances and some wonky, ill-thought-out decisions have certainly affected my imagined life. I work on trying to accept those things and not let them define who I am, ultimately. I'll stick that crap in my toolbox, as it will surely come in handy.

Are you taking a grown-up dose? My answer to that one in the not-so-recent past might have been, "Selectively." Meanwhile, so many children are taking a grown-up dose every day unknowingly and not by choice. My heart aches at this thought, but I also know from experience that the aforementioned toolbox holds a lot of space.

How would you answer those questions? I really want to know.


Jason Isbell - official site

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