Should We Love Life? I Think We Should by Gangsta Fish

Topic: Love

I find it interesting that it’s rare I hear these days the term “I love life.”

Okay. Stress. Work. People. I get it.

But I’ve been thinking about it, and I think people are actually getting to a point where they grossly exaggerate the downs of daily life, and unintentionally convince themselves that every bad thing predominates all the good. The initial response if such a person were to contemplate this might be “there are no good things! Everything is bad! Meh!” or something along those lines, but I believe that is just an element of psychology where we actually refuse to think otherwise, because we like to be right. How ironic, right?

In any event, I think of this forum on a website I visit regularly. In the “General Chit-Chat” section, one of the topics was entitled “Ways You Want To Die,” and the user posted the general rules of the thread, saying basically that it couldn’t be something generic like dying in your sleep, or getting shot or whatever. The first person to comment said this:

“I’d rather not [think about ways I want to die]. I love life.”

And I thought, “Huh. . . I haven’t heard that in a long time.”

In the environment that you could say is my work place, I’m surrounded by pretty much nothing but peers, and in my years of this line of work, I have heard everything but that. I’ve heard of people wanting to commit suicide, people hating their lives, not wanting to go home, thinking about cutting themselves, hating this person and that person, hating everybody. Man, oh man. I’m not sure why in this modern age–whether it’s the gross literature about monsters and gunshots and blood that kids keep reading, or some other kind of influence–so many people seem to be so unhappy.

Why is that?

Stress from school, or work, or whatever it is that’s making you anxious, can easily cause a dislike for living, in the short term, but what about other things like food, and shelter, and friends?  Maybe some of those things are difficult to afford (not friends, mind), but at least we have them. At least we’re not totally emaciated with dirt and flies all over us and having to hike one hundred miles several times every day to get even a slightly genuine supply of water.

Sometimes life is just really rough, like when you have extremely difficult parents, or if you are constantly in a bad environment, or if you’re too busy to really have any good acquaintances, or you’re involved in some kind of feud or incident . . . yeah, that stuff isn’t always easy, but I when I get struck with tragedy or burden, I don’t let it completely weigh me down to the point I loathe my existence; I remember that just about everything is temporary.

Sometimes that’s hard to believe, and sometimes we do have long-term issues, but it can never last forever. And any time that it seems like it does, or when something occurs that is simply irreversible, there are still ways around it. The water always finds its way around the rock. And when there’s a dam, the dam wears down eventually.

As an example, someone came to guest speak at our school, and I swear I will never forget it.

There was this assembly about drunk driving, your basic stuff, cops come in, they tell you why you shouldn’t drive drunk, they show you pictures of accidents, they play a 9-1-1 dispatch tape, they tell you you could get permanently injured, you could kill other people, yadda, yadda, yadda, things everyone had already heard a million times.

So, guess what? They had a guest speaker who was actually in a drunken car accident! Gasp! That’s new!

But my thoughts of “oh boy, here we go again,” were inappropriate. The guest speaker was sitting at a desk on the side of the stage, and when the police officers finished their speech it was his turn at the podium. When he got up and walked to the other side of the stage, he had this limp in his left leg, and it wasn’t even one of those teeny skippy deals–it was a really conspicuous limp. So, needless to say, the guy is disabled, and I could hear from the hushed whispers that some other people already had sympathy for him, and so did I. Being disabled, I assume, is no fun.

When he got to the podium, he adjusted the microphone with his right hand, and cleared his throat to begin speaking. The first thing he said predictably was “hello,” but when he said it, his voice sounded incredibly hoarse and shaky, like somebody who just got over crying. He was smiling warmly, so obviously he had not been crying, but from the second he made his greeting everybody knew something was seriously wrong with him. As soon as the auditorium said “hello” back, he chuckled like a little girl, and said “Heh . . . that’s cool,” like he never anticipated our cooperation.

So what did the courteous audience do? They laughed. But I guess that’s somewhat of an exaggeration. The audience didn’t necessarily laugh, they just giggled and snickered a little bit, save for the few mature people. My first thought was, “Shoot, he’s not all right in the head, he’s about to make a speech, and everybody’s going to laugh at him.”

Immediate remorse.

He started to speak, and it became perfectly clear that he had more than just a disabled leg. His grammar and sentence structure were just fine–he spoke like an adult–but he often paused for a second between remarks like his throat was too sore to carry on, and like before, his voice was extremely hoarse and unsteady.  Surprisingly, from that point on, the audience didn’t laugh, snicker, or otherwise mock once. And that’s saying something.

If the guy’s speech wasn’t so sad and touching, I’m sure the listeners would not have given a hoot about it and they would have laughed their heads off at how odd he sounded. But what he was saying was preventing that from happening. He told us the story of how when he was young and in school he was extremely fit and athletic, being able to run at almost record-breaking speed, and his dream was to run in the Olympics as soon as he could.

I remember him saying as he got older that he began to fall under the influence. “Everybody was drinking at that time. I wanted to do it because everybody else was doing it. I wanted to be cool, too.”

Just thinking about that puts a lump in my throat. “I wanted to be cool, too.”  Something about that just really triggers my water works, how innocent he sounded when he said it, and how sincere it was at the same time.  By then, I was fully aware I wasn’t the only one sniffling to hold back tears.

But that wasn’t what really touched me. He went on about how later in his life, when he was under-aged but had a driver’s license, he went out with his friend to get drunk for the first time, and when they decided to leave, both of them had alcohol in their systems, and were under the influence as they drove. He talked about his friend saying how tired and sick he was feeling, so he offered to drive, thinking his judgment was much better than it was. When he got behind the wheel, he said, he just blacked out.

In the years that passed, he had gotten physical therapy, started out in a wheel chair, lost vision in his left eye, and lost all feeling and function in his entire left side, which explained the limp. On top of that, his left hand also ceased working, and when he held up his arm–for the first time making me notice that his hand was balled in a fist as it perpetually would be–he let go of it, and it dropped limply to his side again. He also received damage in his left brain, which was why he talked so oddly. All the functions that were previously provided by his left brain were gone.

This guy obviously had it rough.

And then he said this.

“Over time, I realized I didn’t destroy my life. I changed it.”

Wow. People burn their toast, or somebody cuts them off on the street, and their life is ruined. This guy lost every last function in his left side, dealt with family friction, and the friend that he was with died. Physical therapy, brain damage, immobility, and a lost dream of running in the Olympics. But he’s not depressed. He doesn’t wish life was over, he doesn’t think about suicide. This is a guy that clearly loves life. Perhaps he didn’t outwardly say that, but if he could deal with all this, and still live with little complaints and jeers, I think it’s a given. He said that was the first and last time he ever got drunk. If he wanted to die, he could have easily done it by now.

So life may not be as great for some people as it is for others, and certain people in particular may focus on the troubling aspects of life more than others, but there is always something good, even if it’s hard to find.  And if, by some slim chance, there isn’t, it’s not as bad as we think it is. Every time I think life can’t get any worse, I think about that man. Compared to him, life couldn’t get better.

Of course this may not sound too convincing, and of course people will object to it, but the next time you find something to complain about, just remember you should try to love life every once and a while.

Maybe life will love you back.

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