While reading a book by my current favorite author, Grace Burrowes, I was forced to give pause by a few words made by the book’s titular character. “Life doesn’t owe us happiness.” In the day-to-day living of life one can’t help but to think, what does life owe us? Or are we the ones who owe life something?
There are days when I feel as though life just isn’t fair. I think that the vast majority of people can attest to that. Life sometimes feels like it has more downs than ups. I know that I can say this not solely as someone who has battled depression the majority of my adult life. For all of us life can be, well, life. Sure, we’re often told to think about how great we may have it in comparison to those who have a great deal less. However, I think doing so is only for the sake of trying to keep some perspective.
The question then becomes, what are we to do with our lives? We never know just how long we may have. And while we’re not all meant to be famous or affluent, I’d like to think that we all have some sort of purpose for being here. Regardless of one’s religious belief I think that each of us are here some reason. Big or small. And, as Grace later writes in the book, we often live our lives with “too much caution and observation, not enough participation or spice.”
Truly appreciating life comes with time, experience, and sometimes, medication. I have been thinking about where I am in my life at this moment. I think back to my 20s and consider situations that I have handled then and have had to handle now. As much as I hate to admit it, if it wasn’t for that added time, that additional living, my perspective would not have improved. Things that once bothered me to the point of exhaustion now roll off my back. And even if they don’t, I don’t go throwing a temper tantrum about it. Sure, I’m still that person in many regards but I am less hard on myself. I’m more usefully contemplative rather than being so due to angst.
What I do know is that life is crazy. No matter what your issues are, I feel as though mine are uniquely my own. We may have to deal with the same things but because we’re all wired so differently its impact and intensity vary greatly. With each day I live my life comes more time for me to appreciate the struggles and the rewards of it. During one point in my life divorce felt like the worst thing, the biggest burden. Now, I feel that it was an experience that I had to go through given my own life choices and the choices made by my then spouse. It’s true, it takes time to grow up.
Everything is a matter of perspective and for the most part time provides the very perspective we need. I spent years of my life being afraid to live and being overly critical of all my actions. I was worried that my life had to follow a specific plan. Now that I’m about to turn 33 I have discovered that one, five or even ten years from now the very things that I feared or even dreaded experiencing have made me a much better person. We can’t avoid all of life’s pitfalls. Some of them really need to happen. I’m still not okay with losing someone I love, being stressed about money and going through multiple mid-life crises. But I am appreciative of my continued determination in making my life, both the good and the bad of it, what I want it to be. Life doesn’t owe me anything. I owe it to life to simply keep on living.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 10/9/13 issue of The Union-Recorder. It appeared under the title, Growing Up Takes a Lot of Time.