Don’t disappear into this world and leave behind not a trace. Don’t become invisible to all but the taxman, or the bill collector. Don’t become just somebody’s mom, or just somebody’s wife, or just somebody’s son. Don’t become invisible to yourself. Fight to stay alive, fully vibrantly wonderfully alive as you. And if people can’t handle that, fuck it. Do it anyhow.
Sometimes, we get so caught up, so involved, so committed to causes and people and things — we let ourselves become such a part of something else — that we remain way too small a part of ourselves. That’s what I mean by swallowed up.
When I married (many years ago) I took no other’s name. I could not be convinced of the sagacity of such a path. It seemed a bow to convention (far more than anything else) and I was never one to do simply what the others had done. In truth, I just did not want to be swallowed up. I did not want to disappear. I needed some marker of my life that was my own — only my own — and I thought my name could provide that proof. I realize now that was too vague, too undefined, but it was a start. And I worked from there. I wanted people to know — heck, I wanted to know — that I was here, that I mattered. At least I hope that is what they say, one day after I am gone.
So, make your mark. Do good. Serve others. But don’t lose yourself in the process. Keep yourself. Sometimes, others come first. But you must take care of yourself, or everything becomes diminishing returns. Don’t be the lesson of the burned-out wreck by the side of the highway. Or the clunker that never left the lot. Be the sexy Ferarri or even the humming VW — you know, the one that just keeps chugging in the right lane, going farther than anyone ever expects it to run. You smile at that one, even as you pass it. Be smart. Don’t get swallowed up.