Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A life well lived

"Hey, look! A hole! Let's jump in it!"
How one's response should always be
in the presence of a gaping chasm.
Just about everything I've ever needed in my life has fallen in to my lap. When I wanted a job, one would show up within my community of acquaintances. Or I'd stumble into a place in a suit and be rewarded with employment. Should I want a new instrument, one just happens to be going for the right price somewhere nearby (unless it has the word "Fender" attached to it). Cars, activities, food, and housing situations (just to name a few) have seemingly been effortless issues for me.

I am lucky. I am blessed.

I have fairly recently become well acquainted with a few fellow college students who weren't born with this "luck gene" (or, to put it bluntly, without a surplus of money). It is somewhat shocking to learn that every person in the world doesn't have a background in privilege. These students have been hungry, tired, penniless, without transportation, and without employment opportunities. Difficulties have been the norm for them.

And yet they are joyful. They spew joy like a limitless reservoir during flood season. And I envy that from time to time.

It is truly refreshing to know the presence of those who have their work ethic to thank for their joy. Not just happiness, but pure joy and a meaningfulness that speaks volumes through the acts of life. My pessimistic, far too privileged self would do well to emulate their work ethic. My ultimate failure, at least in my own eyes, is in my laziness.

I'm sure many of you can relate. Contentment is... well, comfortable. I firmly believe that humanity's aversion to pain has allowed contentment to become the ultimate goal for a "life well lived." When life is safe, life is painless. With less time to be oppressed by pain, do we not then have more time to be full of joy? Because of my privilege and safe environment growing up, I've never learned properly to take risks.

I don't remember things well. Maybe it's the laziness again, just in a more abstract way within the confines of my grey-mattery brain. But the things that I do remember vividly required risk. The few times that I've actually taken risk in this life are the times I have truly lived. A life well lived is not a life with no pain. It is instead a life where opportunity is afforded the chance to produce either pain or joy.

I remember the pain. I remember the joy. The joy has by far been worth the pain. Relationships are kindled in risk taking. The world is changed through risk taking. Knowing that is beginning to afford me a real desire to never forsake opportunity again. All I have to do is get off of my privileged, comfortable, 30x30 jean-wearing buttocks.

My plight is that we all learn to leave the confines of the house. Take a chance. Visit with new people. Don't be afraid of going somewhere new. And, most of all, don't be afraid to risk your pride, self-image, and, sometimes, safety.

A hypocrite who loves you all,