It’s not that I didn’t first realize how downright attractive being dirty can be while watching shows like Survivor or, one of my sister’s favorites: Naked and Afraid . But nothing has driven the appeal of dirtiness home to me as hard as the series 1883. I’m aware I may overuse the L-word sometimes, but it must be said: I love this show. I wouldn’t have guessed how much a series about the past could expand my perspective regarding the present. My mind gets blown every time I watch it, sending my thoughts racing in a million different directions as I ponder the hardships these people faced journeying west through the Great Plains against what I have going on as I journey in infinite directions (sometimes around in circles) toward self-awareness. A self-awareness journey may not hold the same appeal as a western journey when it comes to building a TV series, but it’s a necessity. And should be every bit as dirty.
Dirty denotes action! Dirty says, “I am too busy living my life at this moment to be fixated on my appearance.” What a relief, right? The idea that appearance need not take center stage. The characters in 1883 are dirty because every bit of their energy is spent surviving. Survival means facing whatever unknowns the day throws at them and managing or rising above them. Then they get up the next day and do the same. Rinse and repeat. Not that rinsing is a given- that’s decided by their circumstance and location. Nothing is a given. Priorities are shaped by the givens in life. When your only given is that you need to keep moving in an effort to stay ahead of all that’s trying to destroy you, I would imagine that any priority beyond staying alive easily falls by the wayside. And as difficult as that would be, doesn’t it seem like it might also make things easier in some ways? In the sense of knowing who you ARE?
Don’t get me wrong- I’m accustomed to the ease of the life we live in the 21st century. I appreciate and enjoy indoor plumbing, electricity, technology, etc…as much as the next guy. But when I watch these characters in amazement each week, I’m reminded of something I know and have always known, and that is the capacity we hold within. We ARE THESE PEOPLE! As Glennon Doyle says, “we can do hard things.” Indeed we are meant to do hard things! And when we don’t do enough “hard things” we lose sight of the extent of our abilities to do so. We don’t strengthen muscles within that become stronger every time they’re worked. These are “muscles” built through the challenge and triumph of facing adversity and discomfort and recognizing after each one that I am a survivor. I’ve GOT this. Every discomfort you endure rather than escape from, every dragon you face rather than run from, every mountain you scale rather than go around- you are building the very muscles that will allow you to take on even MORE. And to KNOW IT.
Somewhere in-between being chased down by murderous, scalping horse thieves and dodging haters on your social media accounts, lies a balanced existence. A world where we’re not content to sit on the sidelines in order to stay safe and clean. A world where we’re so busy LIVING our lives that we don’t even know we’re dirty. And we don’t fucking care.
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