Life, Oh Life

When I woke up Sunday morning I punched my pillow. I had dreams of a desired reality —a connection with a woman and a beautiful morning, a alternate realm that perfectly contrasted the moments before my head hit the pillow.

Waking up, with my heart aching after losing the dream’s perfection is surely a prescription for a temporarily sunken soul. This is a familiar feeling for me, as it well may be for many others, where imagination tries to paint fiction as real life. I awoke disappointed. These experiences are not frequent mind you, but impactful and have stamped my memory.

The cause of this, for me, is almost always a woman.

Of course it’s not the dream that’s the problem, it’s more the reality the dream is founded upon.

This recent situation was an abrupt and uninvited intrusion into the flow of optimism and bliss I was experiencing. I woke up with anxiety and doubt, disappointment within myself and over chances lost. I splashed my face with anger and walked out the door with confusion and emotion. I strolled down the street along with an uneasy and disrupted heartbeat.

I am blessed to have this be an infrequency, I cannot fathom such a constant climate for life. The emotions close in on you, the mind cannot escape and the sadness will remain until flooded out when the time comes. It sucks and it’s brutal and it’s inescapable.

But that’s life. The area to focus on is not the emotion, it is not the ability to depress feelings of anger, disappointment or sickness. The important area of growth is our ability to move on —to accept that what happened happened, and that life will continue, as beautifully as it has for billions of years.

Life is long. Granted I am a young man, a soon to be 20-year-old, I don’t know how short it may seem. Life goes fast, but we forget the tremendous amount of time we (for those lucky enough to escape sickness and mortal violence) have on this planet. Though feelings of sadness and anger can make life feel so intense it will pass soon, it will. Life is far too large and those moments far too fleeting.

Obviously there are tragedies worthy of elongated grief and emotion. Even with those though, you should never lose sight of the scope of life and the relative size of the tragedy.

God, I have absolutely no idea if my writing makes any sense. Regardless…

Life is chock full of positives. There are the large things, like a connected and cheerful family, a dog’s unlimited love, a union between individuals who are perfect for each other, a birth of a child, standing atop a mountain. The small things, I find, are more frequent, and it takes a practiced eye to spot them. I’d like to believe I have, at the very least, a novice ability to spot them.

The energy in a room full of people who are energized and inspired, the inquiry of a foreigner touching the water of the campus lagoon on a snowy day, the smile of a passing stranger, the heat of the sun on your skin. It’s important to derive what happiness can be gained from such moments. The small things are the intertwining strings that form the community we live in.

I don’t think that the last sentence does the meaning justice. The small things, the enthusiasm of a friend in a conversation, the cracking voice of a nostalgic grandson, the intensity in one’s conviction —these are all of what comprises life, what living is all about.

The small things are the beauties in life. All represent clear pictures of when life is being lived to its fullest extent. And we need more recognition of these moments.

I get sick of the perception that life is dull five out of every seven days, the constant pull of social media that somehow wins over people’s attention, the frequent inability to focus on someone for longer than a couple minutes.

We’ve forgot that we have nowhere to go. If you’re in a classroom, you’re not supposed to be somewhere else, enjoy the time you have with a professor and fellow academics. If you’re outside enjoy it, don’t let cold temperatures draw your mind to wooden walls and electricity. If you’re sitting across a table with a friend, attempt to be at that table, attempt to converse and focus on the person you’re with.

There are ideas of what is interesting these days. Ideas which lead to the drooling over what others are doing, of people traveling the world, or of meaningless dramas. When life, the people who are living it, and the environment we are all surrounded by, are far more complex, have far more to them and can draw out a far greater sense of happiness.

Just for a moment think about how many humans we all walk by on a daily basis. For a city dweller, a college student or a traveler the number is likely at least three digits. And they are all complex beings full of knowledge, ideas, emotions, experiences which have immense depth, immense value and are, when seen in their full context, are worthy of turning into a quality book and are worthy of great love.

A quote that has resonated with me from a psychology class: “When you fully know someone, you can’t help but love them.” Well there’s 7+ billion “someones” out there.

And in practice it is not this lovey-dovey, it’s a change in outlook that translates to a more engaging life. It’s definitely possible to wholeheartedly embody a life of community and interaction, but for me that is not the case. I can’t always be engaged, but I can strive to be more present with people, more in touch with those around me and more capable of connection.

When I punch my pillow, walk about the street and eventually get through the discomfort, I learn to live life. I get taught a lesson in looking ahead, in realizing the minuscule size of the problem and the grandiose idea that we are all living on this planet together.

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