Well, on this eve of the New Year, I cannot help but think about how enlightening and dynamic 2013 was for me. It was a year filled with much change, some good, some bad. It was a year filled with more insight on life. It was a year filled with new experiences that I will never forget, experiences that brought the insight, and in many ways bolstered it. These experiences reminded me that life is not something to be mastered, like one would master some job routine or exercise routine. Life is something to be lived – no mastery required. Of course, there are healthy ways to live life, and unhealthy ways to live life. Furthermore, the latter of the two seems to be a failed attempt at “living life.” However, are there really failed attempts? After all, we’re all living. We’re breathing. We’re interacting. We’re learning. We’re writing. We’re listening to music. We’re working. We’re making money.
Okay, so perhaps we might perform these “tasks” in an unhealthy way. Breathing – smoking whatever, inhaling whatever, etc. etc. Interacting – walking into public places with guns and wreaking havoc. Learning – allowing five years olds to listen to rap, and absorb the language and the many inappropriate references. Writing – posting statuses and “tweets” on social media about “how ugly so and so’s sweater was”, or “how terrible my mom is because she refuses to allow me to have my twenty year old boyfriend over when I am only fifteen.” Listening to music – (rap certainly does not belong here because it is not music) celebrating “musicians” for mere aesthetic purposes, i.e. I want to see Miley Cyrus in concert because she has great effects, like the wreaking ball, and the twerking, etc. Working – performing any job, whether you hate it or love it, and not knowing your purpose. Making money – forgetting to appreciate yourself for being able to make ends meet.
Stated above are not criticisms, but rather truths. Just a few truths that I experienced in 2013. To me, unhealthy ways to perform those “tasks.” However, none of those suggest failed attempts at living life. They suggest ignorance, misunderstanding, confusion, perhaps mystification. Many people breathe and feel lucky to be alive. Many people stop in the midst of their busy days and take deep breaths, centering their minds, relaxing their muscles, exercising their lungs. These same people go out and teach others these techniques. They write books. They record meditation exercises and post them on YouTube, interacting with, giving to their fellow man. Those impacted by gun violence go out and fight for gun laws and for safer schools and for better emergency procedures, interacting with others to make the world a better, and safer place. More importantly, not only a safer place for themselves but for others. At the same time, children are learning gratitude and empathy. They are learning healthy ways to express their emotions. They are learning to understand their emotions. And many of us adults try very hard to cultivate these experiences by reading and writing with our kids, by making them feel safe at home and at school, and by providing them with wholesome, cerebral experiences from which they can learn and glean insight. With this, perhaps many of our kids will think more about what they post online. At that moment of dissing mom on twitter, maybe I will stop before I hit the “submit” button and think about how my mom would feel if she read that “tweet.” Or maybe before hitting that button, I’ll think about the “girl with the ugly sweater” and how she would feel upon reading that tweet. Instead of airing my feelings to the world, maybe I’ll formally write them down in a journal or turn them into a story or into a melody.
Many of us listen to music and appreciate the sounds and how the sounds parallel to the words. We try to understand the message. We search for the message. We share good music with each other, with our kids, our partners, our friends. We keep an open-mind. But moreover, we appreciate what we hear. And if we hear something so stimulating, and so touching that we grow to fall in love with it, then we appreciate the artist for creating it, not for his/her aesthetic appeal on tv or on the stage. These same artists will recognize that appreciation, and moreover, will recognize their purpose. Why are they making this money? Well, they are creating beautiful, honest music that people appreciate and connect with on a deeper level. The rest of us, whether we are CEOs of major companies or McDonald’s crew members, also recognize that we serve some purpose. The drive-thru attendant at McDonald’s, working ten-hour shifts to make ends meet at home, smiles at a customer and warmly greets her, complementing her nail color, as she pays for her iced tea. The woman is like any other paying customer. However, she is mourning the loss of her son who was killed a year before in combat overseas. The drive-thru attendant had no idea – the woman did not share this with the attendant. Instead, the woman smiled back at the attendant and thanked her. The attendant’s kindness made getting through the day a little easier for the woman. The drive-thru attendant was really just doing her job, but doing it with a purpose. She works hard for her money. She respects herself for working hard.
These are also truths. To me, healthy ways of performing those “tasks.” The fun part of life, is recognizing that we can make healthy choices or unhealthy choices. Our final decision, whether we choose the healthy choice or the unhealthy, depends on our experience. If we choose the unhealthy way, it does not mean that we have failed at life, it simply means that we made a choice, and perhaps it wasn’t the best choice. The even more fun part about life, is that over time, we learn. Next year upon making a choice, we’ll choose the healthier alternative. Did we master life? I don’t think so. We just made a better choice. The best part is that this dichotomy between healthy choices and unhealthy choices is never-ending and is not as binary as I am making it sound. We make healthy choices and we make unhealthy choices at the same time. Also, everything is subjective. Healthy to one person might be unhealthy to another person and vice versa. However, we can still teach other and learn from each other. We can still share our opinions. We’re getting through life together. We’re not doing it wrong. We’re not doing it right. We’re just doing it, and along the way, we’re making choices that impact, in some way, everything around us.
So here’s to 2014….. A year filled with awareness of the choices we make, the things we impact. For me, a year filled with more music, writing, reading, learning, understanding, and even more insight. God bless. Happy New Year!
-Live and love your life!