This post started out as a way for me to explain the revolution in Egypt to my kids. But then it changed.
From the moment we’re born, until the moment we die – life is hard. Physically, psychologically, emotionally, politically, in love and in war, in sickness and in health, forever and ever – life is a long lesson on enduring hardships.
We crackle to life in a fit of energy and gestate in the safest place we’ll ever know. But it’s over too soon–and then it begins. Our skulls are squeezed as we burst into light and gasp for our first breath. Choking on polluted air. Our teeth slice through our gums, our hearts get ripped out from learning there is no magic in the world, and then we learn over and over that it wasn’t really ripped out the time before. We’re then stretched and stuffed with knowledge and experience – and we get up and go to work. Every day. We pay bills, wrestle taxes, flip the guy off who didn’t let us merge into traffic, and argue with the insurance company about proper coverage even though it was their paperwork error. We shave our skin, stub our toes, and try to fit into last year’s bathing suit. We go through puberty. And menopause. And shrinkage. We compete with coworkers, scream at our siblings, and get up at 5 a.m. on Saturdays to parade our offspring to whatever event currently makes them happy. We fight weight, addictions, and daily temptations. We make resolutions that we hope will make us better people. We cry. We bleed. We make trips to the emergency room. We revolt. We war. We survive natural disasters. We rob, steal, covet, and kill. And we do whatever is necessary to obtain the power and respect we feel we deserve. Because it’s never enough. Not even at the end.
Especially not at the end.
Not after we’ve endured so much.
Life is hard. And cruel. And if you’re not prepared to eat, prepare to be eaten. This is the nature of the beast called Life. So what is it that makes the whole of life so fucking wonderful when we’re all so busy selfishly devouring each other’s energy and wounding ourselves and others in the process?
I’ll tell you. It’s the seemingly routine moments that we skip past and look beyond. The smile from the old woman you helped cross the street. The night you comforted your crying daughter who misses the dog that died last year. A kiss. A word. A line from a song. A crisp fall day with the scent of cinnamon wafting through an open window.
The things in life that make it worth living are the things we’re never looking for.
The happiest people I’ve ever known aren’t looking for happiness. The trick, I think, is to recognize that these routine moments surround us all day–and then we must embrace them, and spend as much time in them as possible. Because before you know it, we’re back to hacking our way through the waist-high bullshit of another day. A day that we’ll neatly place on top of the day before.
And so on.
And so on.