If you’re alive, you’re vulnerable; this is the nature of reality as a human being. We have our bodies with their unknown expiration dates. We don’t know what will happen from one day to the next. We love people. They also have unknown expiration dates. We don’t know what happens after this. That right there is the stuff–what more needs to be acknowledged for all of us to embrace the fact that to be human is to be vulnerable?
A lot people run from this reality, even though we all know it’s right there, under the surface. There’s a desire to numb out, to distract ourselves with busyness, to make our plans and meet our deadlines and workworkwork, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. We’ve set it up so there isn’t a choice. If we want to keep a roof over our heads and food in the fridge, if we want to be able to pay for healthcare and send our kids to college, we need money, and lots of it. So we put our heads down and we work. We look forward to the weekend, and we (maybe) take a week or two a year and go travel somewhere and think, “this is the life.” We’re so tired most of the time, we have coffee houses on every corner, and we have our devices to save time, except they suck time. We go meet our friends and text other people, missing moments to connect, to be present, but we’ve all heard this before, right? We know this. It’s just, what’s the option?
Tomorrow isn’t promised. I know no one likes to dwell on that, and I’m not suggesting we should. Living in fear isn’t really living. There’s no point getting worked up over all the things that could happen. Hopefully we will all live to see many tomorrows, but I think if we can be brave enough to face our circumstances consciously, that can inspire us to truly live every single day, and to be kind to one another. Not everyone can meet the pain of this thing with ease or grace. For a lot of people, it’s a messy, thorny thing. A great many people struggle with the big picture, and the unanswered questions. We lose gorgeous souls every day to depression and addiction, because the weight of their despair is too much, the pain is too great.
Sometimes a person has one face for the world. Maybe that face is always lit up, always smiling or laughing, or spreading joy, but inside, the pain is crushing. We feel so shocked when we lose people with huge gifts, but everyone has an interior world, and everyone suffers to one degree or another. Loss is a constant. We lose our keys. We lose a moment to say something. We lose our innocence, maybe too soon. We lose our possibility to not know something, like what it feels like to be abused or betrayed. We lose someone we love because they need something we can’t give them. We lose someone we love because they’re taken from us. We lose, and we grieve, and you never know from the outside what someone is carrying, unless they tell you. Even then, we each carry our own pain. You can’t take it over for anyone. You can’t make things all better. We all have our demons to face, and we face them the best way we can.
It lacks empathy and understanding to suggest a person who fails to manage their pain in a healthy way is selfish. Depression robs a person of hope. Imagine feeling the worst sadness you’ve ever felt, and believing it would never, ever get better. No one wants to be in pain. No one wants to hurt the people they love with all their hearts. No one wants to be a slave to addiction. Sometimes people lose the battle. They get tired. Maybe they’ve been fighting for years, for decades, and they just can’t find the strength anymore. When depression and addiction take over a person’s life, they also stamp out the light, the beauty, the joy, the possibility to connect in a meaningful and sustainable way, and we have to understand that, and let it inspire us to reach out more, to put our phones down and connect with each other. To hold the door open, or let someone merge on the freeway, or acknowledge the person who just handed you that much-needed cup of coffee. You never know what someone is going through, but you know there’s the potential that whatever they’re facing may not be easy.
Life can be brutal, and loss is inevitable, but along with that exists so much beauty. The feeling of your child’s chubby, soft little arms around your neck. The genuine smile of someone you love. The sound of laughter, sunlight on your face, the ocean, the breeze on your check, a moment of recognition, of breakthrough, of being seen with all your flaws and all your gifts, the happiness of those you love, tears between friends, the overwhelming feeling of gratitude just for the experience of being alive, finding those things that light you up, traveling with people who understand you. All these things exist simultaneously. As much as you can, pay attention to the gifts. Try not to get caught up in racing through your life. You’re only going to have this one life in this body you’re in, that much we know, and love and connection are the best things we have here. Immerse yourself in that stuff. Uncover your gifts and share them. Open to love, give it, receive it, spread it. Celebrate the people you cherish, and celebrate yourself. Try to do each day that way, and you’ll have a beautiful life.
Wishing that for you, and sending you love,