“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.”
When I saw this quote, I was attracted by the upbeat philosophy of the author. I realized immediately, that I knew nothing about him. As I researched his life, I discovered he was a makeup artist, photographer and author. What struck me in particular was that he realized he was gay at the age of six! For me, this fact puts the quote above in context.
Kevyn Aucoin was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1962. I was eleven that year, growing up in Dundas, Ontario – admittedly, not quite in the same neighbourhood! However, I remember quite clearly that in my hometown, there was little, or no tolerance for homosexuality. I read that he was bullied at school and endured beatings because of his sexual preference.
I raise this issue in his life because, for me, it puts his words in a more meaningful context. There are a lot of people who suffer as social outcasts and even persecution – for many different reasons. There is no shortage of examples of this fact in the daily news stories. One might reasonably expect that people who are victimized in this way, would have a jaded or negative outlook on life.
This man seems to be able to get past all that and choose to live his life in a positive way. I admire this a great deal! I put emphasis on the word ‘choose’ because how we live our lives is our choice.
You hear a lot of people (myself included at times) whine and complain about their circumstances. Most of us in the developed world, really don’t have a lot to complain about. And yet, many walk around with sour looks on their faces. It doesn’t have to be that way! No one’s life is all puppies and roses. We all have our difficulties. These circumstances are usually beyond our control. How we meet those challenges and interact with others is our choice.
Mr. Aucoin goes on to say that he relishes the freedom to make his life choices – to choose how he’ll live each day. It is the freedom he prizes, and rightly so! If I want to be miserable all day, that’s my choice – my freedom to choose. I must, however, be prepared to live with the consequences of my choices.
A friend once asked me why I cared what other people think of me. She says it’s ridiculous to care about the opinions of others because when you do, you give those people power over your life. For example, if someone gives my book a poor review, and I allow that review to depress me, then I have given them the power to ruin my day. what I should have done was simply remind myself that it is just their opinion, and move on. If I decide to make the choices in life that will meet with the approval of others, I am no longer free. I have turned the decisions about my choices over to other people, be they friends or family.
To choose to feel life and embrace his humanity is very important to Kevyn Aucoin. How many of us slow down enough to ‘feel’ our life? I read these words and my mind conjured a picture of someone at rest, breathing deeply, being fully aware of his/her environment, and enjoying the moment with all of their senses. We need to keep in touch with the feel of our lives and all that encompasses.
He wants to embrace his humanity. This is a powerful image for me, because, to me, an embrace means love and total acceptance. I must accept and love both who and what I am. I’ve always been guilty of harbouring a jaded view of myself – often because I focus on the negative and don’t give myself credit for the good things about me. We need to achieve balance. I have work to do in this regard.
I love quotes like this because I really need them. I don’t know why, but I have always struggled, since I was a kid, with an inclination towards negative responses – or choices. I always found it easy to become depressed, as opposed to being a happy, positive force among the people around me. I had to make a deliberate effort to be positive and cheerful – it did not come naturally to me. Here I am, in the sixth decade of my life, still fighting this same battle – forcing myself to be a positive person.
And so, I admire, and am grateful to people like Kevyn Aucoin who point out a better way to live.