Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Gusto.

Have you ever sat back and taken a good look at those around you?  Maybe you see your circle of friends, maybe you see coworkers, or fellow college students, and you wonder why some people just seem to have it, while others don't?

I've had quick friendships before--"quick" here meaning "not very long-lasting, but very impressionable" friendships--with people who seem to have it all.  You know those people?  Good things just constantly seem to fall into their laps.  They are the movers and the shakers of this life, if you will, and everything they do, they do with gusto.

Gusto is my word for the day.

There are certain people that you cross paths with and you can look back and say, "That person?  So-and-so?  Oh yeah.  He (or she) is going to make it."  You may not know exactly what their "it" is that they're going to make, but they are on their way to something big.  This is why I say I've had "quick" friendships before.  People like this are always just passing through, on their way to the next level.  They stay in your life just long enough to teach you something about the world, or something about yourself, and then they move on.

This gusto, the way they approach life, is somehow contagious.  You find yourself wrapped up in their lifestyle for a flicker in time.  You hang out with them because everything they do is centered on one thing:  having fun.  Or maybe it's "being happy."  Or possibly "squeezing every last drop out of this thing called life."  For a brief moment, you forget your woes.  You forget that you're "just a parent," or "just a wife," or "just a student."  You realize that you can be whomever you want to be.  You remember how good it feels to stay awake all night just to watch the sun come up, just to say you did.  You remember freedom as you drive down the interstate with the windows down, belting out the words to whatever happens to be on the radio.  Just for a moment, you forget how it felt to be "just you."

And then, suddenly, they're gone.

These people with gusto, they usually have a large circle of friends.  Some terrific opportunity comes up ("A job in journalism in Borneo?  I'll take it!"), they pack up their one-room apartment, put everything in storage, and they're out of your life as quickly as they came into it.

It's all about gusto, baby.

With a hug and a wave, behind dark sunglasses, they're gone.  And you're left to pick up the pieces.

You let the pieces lay around for a while, hoping they'll come back.

They don't.

But when you finally do get out the broom and dustpan and you begin to sweep everything into a neat, tidy little pile resembling your neat, tidy little life, something catches your eye.  A little scrap of this.  A smidgen of that.  And you remember those fun times, how incredibly cool and free you felt, and you pull those pieces out of the pile.  All the rest, you toss, but you keep those little splinters of memories that existed outside your normal day-to-day.  "I grocery shop," you think.  "I pay the bills.  I change diapers.  I load the dishwasher, the washing machine, then I unload those same appliances.  I taxi my children.  I make dinner.  I feed the dogs."  But in your back pocket, you hold those little pieces of gusto.  Maybe you begin to organize your life so that you actually have the time to kick the radio on and dance across your living room.  Maybe now you find the time to go fishing one Saturday a month.  Maybe you make the time to take a Zumba class or two.

And whatever you do with those few moments of your own, private time, you do them with gusto.

It's all about gusto, baby.