22 Nov Admire the World for Never Ending on You
ON A WARM November day, I walk down the narrow stairwell that leads to the coast. The water looks tranquil and alive and seemingly endless. I’m on my break at work; I’ve done this countless times. But the moment’s not the same, not really anyway. I’m not who I was, nor is the world the same.
I can think back to the moments when I’ve walked these steps. My mind is usually running somewhere, but coming here allows me to take a moment and let it rest. Throughout the days I’ve grown. Isn’t it interesting — we take steps towards the end of our lives (not to be morbid), but we grow and work and work and go, just to make it to our end.
The days must give us something, not as a means to an end, as in work now to get to the destination later — the work is the point — the days are what matter; what else do we have but cherishing the growing pains?
There must be something which comes from within that sustains us through our life, and honestly, I think it is gratitude. Saying thank you for what is — what can never be taken away until we breathe our last breath.
Saying thank you for life.
Admire the world for never ending on you — as you would admire an opponent, without taking your eyes from him, or walking away,
writes Annie Dillard in her classic, The Writing Life.
The world will have our back, and it will challenge us like a worthy opponent; it will make us question ourselves and cause our shell to harden, and soften, and adapt to changing seasons.
One day looking back perhaps we’ll wonder: Did I love my life? Did I truly enjoy it? What will we think of? I wonder if I’ll remember the individual moments such as this one I’m experiencing now, on a break at work at twenty-six years old.
Days spent doing what had to be done, relationships made, days and nights of thinking and doing and being and creating what we call our lives. Will we remember the individual days? Or will we only think of the moments when the page turned, because that is what’s salient, that’s how we judge our time, by what we did.
Or might we wonder: Who did I become? Who was I when nobody was watching? How did I spend my time alone; how did I treat myself when I got low?
We rarely think of the days we felt broken, yet overcame the obstacles. Perhaps a day like today that feels ordinary on the outside. The air is soft and warm; the water moves as it does, the sun rises and turns the world into a pale shade of blue.
But inside, the feelings are like air. They can’t possibly be remembered. But they mean something now, like a breeze on a warm day. Perhaps we’re questioning it all, how we’ll find the strength to carry on.
But then, we do — we take one step after the next, because that’s the only choice we have, and each small step takes us somewhere, away from the pain to a place where life feels sunny again. But the sun never stopped shining. Nor have you — because you’re here, and that’s who you’re becoming. You’re to be admired for never giving up on the world.
And while we look towards the significant moments and remember our lives by how many we had, we hardly exist in those moments at all. Reality is nothing but the flow of time, where we are from each moment to the next. I step down this narrow stairwell to go to where I’ve been before, looking out to sea to pass away the minutes, thinking about what makes this day beautiful, absolutely beautiful.
Of course we hope to have good days where we find innate joy in the little things. Life just feels good. What makes a day a good one? Is it doing what you love. Is it relaxing. Is it being with the people who make you laugh? Is it seeing a project come to life?
Is a good life made from consecutive good days, strung together like ivory beads? Or is a good life one that had its ups and downs, a spirit molded through adversity? A life that leads to a final word, yes, I helped one person heal.
I cared for others and played when I could and laughed when times got tough. I made mistakes as we do, but I learned from them, I grew with them, I made something with my time.
Because there are seasons when it will feel like one bead falls against the next with ease. But then one day, the thread holding them together will unexpectedly break, and the beads will crash to the ground and scatter across the floor. And we’ll wonder what it takes to start again, try again, get back up and fight again.
But the world doesn’t end. The world won’t end on you, nor on me, nor on anyone willing to take another swing and make this ordinary day into something extraordinary. The world won’t end on those willing to string the beads together, those that are multicolored and strange and broken, and reattach them with some loose ends and duct tape.
And maybe that’s a good life, looking back one day, a life that wasn’t perfect, but rather imperfect. But you never gave up. Neither will the world. While we’re here, damn, there’s so much life to live.