I had already planned to write this post before my dad called just now with some news. A distant relative was involved in a car accident last night and did not make it. So, now I’m writing this with an even deeper intention to get the message out.

I think when we are born we are given a certain number of years. That number is written somewhere in some celestial book right beside our name. And when that number is up we’re called Home.

Whether you believe that with me or not is not the point, because no matter which way it happens, the end of our life is inevitable. Whether our years are pre-determined or not, there is a certain length to our life here on Earth.

There is a certain length – but how wide does it go? This existence of ours…how stretchy is it? How much room do we have to discover and learn and experience? How much can we push against boundaries and comfort zones and other limitations?

I think that’s up to us as individuals.

What does it mean to you to live a ‘wide’ life?

To me, it means following my curiosities, reading about the things I want to know about, using my voice to speak up about the things that matter, stepping out of what feels safe and really connecting with people.

I’m growing a veggie garden and that is something I have wanted to do for over a decade. It’s stretched my mind and my soul. I touch dirt every day and it helps me remember I’m alive.

Every time I teach a poetry workshop at the drug treatment centre, I buy a pizza lunch for whoever is living/sitting/sleeping on the sidewalk outside the pizza place. But first, I bend down, I look in their eyes and I ask, “Are you hungry? Do you like pizza? What do you like on your pizza?” Those are some of the most meaningful conversations I have with strangers because what I’m really saying is, “I am with you.”

I write and speak about busting stereotypes in a time of fear. My voice is small but I am using it. I could very easily just have conversations in my head. But then, at the end of my length, how narrow will I have lived?

This is not as wide as I want to live, though. I want to rip the seams around me that hold me in and keep me safe, and have me following the rules I’ve internalized that I think will make me more loveable, more accepted. I don’t want to care about those things. Those things don’t give me room to breathe, to live.

I want to live a long life so I can spend as much time with my loved ones, especially my children, as possible. I want to live a wide life so my children never believe that another kind of life is an option.

In the spirit of life, I encourage you to write down what it means to you to live wide. What do you have to do, how do you have to think, where do you have to go, what do you have to say, what must you create…in order to have that brilliant life?

taslim jaffer, let me out creative