Red Horse Gallery

An Art Gallery on The Big River dedicated to Art of, by and for The People!

Sarah Johnson

Recently I discovered that I am still alive. This came as a happy surprise to me.

Having lost an older brother to cancer when I was 4 years old, awareness of mortality has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I believed, as sibling survivors often do, that I, too, would die young, and that I was responsible for living twice a life since he hadn’t had the opportunity to do so. Overachieving became a strategy to avoid the sadness I had at his loss and the anxiety I had about my own death.  I desperately wanted to honor his life by making him proud, and felt compelled to do as much as I could in what I was convinced would be a very short time on earth. I couldn’t bear the idea of disappointing him, or others.

Everything seems normal to children, because they haven’t yet experienced enough of the world to know otherwise, so the beliefs I developed as a result of grief at that young age seemed normal to me, “just the way I am.” And so for many years, these were unexamined and therefore unhelpful beliefs. I was alive, certainly, but I was not fully present in my life. I was not Living.  And, as it turns out, I was behaving the exact opposite of what I was intending by allowing my anxiety to call the shots.

It took years of self reflection, support from people I love, therapy, art and learning how to truly Live my Life to be able to see and understand how these beliefs impact my choices and my happiness. And to recognize that these same harmful beliefs creep back into my day-to-day life when I’m not paying attention.

Developing a daily mindfulness practice with a focus on being rather than doing has been crucial in helping me truly Live my Life, rather than slog through it by striving for perfection in service of avoidance of sadness and anxiety about death. Luckily, as humans do, I continue to evolve, and in learning how to mindfully make room for and value the pain of grief, rather than run from it, I also continue to regularly discover new gifts from grief. I am Alive, now. I am a Life-Liver, yo.

So, then:  Someday I Will Be Dead is a show about Living.  It is about keen awareness that Life is precious, a gift and a mystery, and not one of us will outsmart its cousin, Death, who can also be a mystery and a gift.  Someday I Will Be Dead is a comforting mantra that helps me place my focus on Living in the moment, being here now.  Someday I Will Be Dead is my mindful documentation of the many precious gifts that I observe as I Live, reminders of the moments that make up a Life. My Life.  Someday I Will Be Dead is how you will remember me someday, because someday, I will be dead. And so will we all.

I ask you, as I often ask myself: what do you want your life to be about? How do you want to be remembered? What are you doing right this minute to be living the life you intend? It is my hope that you will take this opportunity to share with me about your Life, and how you Live.

Thank you to Red Horse Gallery and John Sagan for the opportunity to share this work. And thank you, truly, to all of my people, both alive and dead, who help me Live.

May you Live all the days of your Life, and someday be remembered for what you intended.

Sarah Johnson
October 2018
instagram: @imalifeliver

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