Message in A Bottle – “Don’t Put Anything Off”

“Don’t put anything off,” is the advice of a dear friend who recently lost his wife to cancer after a long battle. Together they had been grand patrons of art in my community.

I pause to assess my life. It’s rich with all that I hold dear – my marriage, family, singing, directing, coaching, traveling, gardening, reading, learning. Still, I hear his words and follow them straight into my heart and to the place where the kernels of my being lie dormant.

What am I putting off?

My friend was not referring to the little things, those sometimes appetites, spied upon pipe dreams, and fast flirtations with purpose. He meant the meat. What part of the sirloin steak of my existence have I not cooked up yet, let alone bought…into. What delicious dish have I seen in a display window and decided, ‘oh no, that’s really too rich for my blood.’ Somewhere in these shadows, my once-dreamt-of ambitions slumber and in the light of my openness and attention, they begin to stir and whisper:

A return to India.
An arts residency in Japan.
A crew spot on a high-seas sailboat.
Reviving my Spanish.
Little Death as an album.
My poetry published widely.
My songs in my own words.
That mascara-less confession with my priest, the mirror.
That radical, no holes barred, blink-and-you’ll-miss it baring of my soul.

Sure, I’ve got my share of put-offs and beneath them all is a safety net. My fear of falling and failing. My fear of gambling away the good. My fear of becoming really good. My fear of indecision. Wait…as I write these words here in my corner coffee shop, over the airwaves Sting sends out his SOS to the world.

I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world
I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle yeah

What message hath my bottle? What is that thing I tell myself I can leave behind me only to find it eternally floating by from upstream? What advice have I got for the young ones in my life who haven’t yet risked big, and lost? And found?

Does someone have to die for the truth to sink in or can we bring the wisdom of those at the edge who turn back with the words “don’t put anything off” to bear on our lives this day? What does it take to put something over? Especially a high stakes something?

It takes an in-breath. The inspiration is all that’s needed for the out-breath to follow. One step. One conscious, directed next step is all that’s ever needed. And what better time is there, what other time, than now?

Isn’t it astounding that we wake up every morning with a head full of dreams and with hands ready to grasp any lever that would shift everything? Isn’t it a daily miracle? Every minute we are dying to ourselves and being reborn. In this particular minute, we might actually wake up to that fact and shepherd our deepest yearning into our next becoming.

Living and dying, inspiring and expiring, breathing in and breathing out. That’s all there is to it and has ever been. Spiriting in the next kernel of destiny. And following it downstream.

That’s the message in a bottle.

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About Karen Kohler

Born in Frankfurt and raised in New York, Karen began her professional music career in Austin. Since returning to NYC in 2001, she has been a leading exponent of the cabaret arts as performer, director, producer and historian. Her performances blend multiple genres - classical, cabaret, jazz, blues and folk-rock - in six languages. She is founder of the award-winning ensemble, Kabarett Kollektif, and producer of Kabarett Fete, a celebrated international cabaret festival. Karen gives private lessons and conducts master classes in stagecraft, the art of public speaking and creativity coaching. View all posts by Karen Kohler

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