Ultimately, we all want to lead a happy life. Advancing your education for years on end in the hopes of obtaining that dream career takes up so much of that precious time. Does life begin upon hiring? If not, what fills that drive to push forward? The key rests in front of you in the daily tasks. It took me a pandemic to figure that out. March 13, 2020 will forever be a date engrained in my mind. New York entered lockdown for fifteen days. Little did we know this dramatic understatement would drag out for months on end. Truthfully, I welcomed the shut-down. Two weeks wouldn’t hurt anybody— it would save lives. I’d finally find the time to cozy up to one of the dozens of books stacked upon my dormant bookshelf.
The Covid numbers continued climbing with my mounting uncertainty.
The escapism of novels could only captivate me for so long before the reality of my situation would settle in. It felt like I was being robbed.
For years you fantasize about the college experience. Eagerly made plans turned into cancelled plans. Friends felt like they lived on the other side of the world despite living only 10 minutes away. Frankly, this attitude got me nowhere worthwhile. People had it far worse, yet I believed crying out “woe is me” would suddenly bring the Covid virus to a screeching halt.
A trip to the local park proved transformative for not just that moment in time, but for my entire life. At this point, Covid restrictions accompanied political unrest, turning the nation into a polarized standoff. To shed some frustration, I took a short drive to the local waterside. Coldplay’s Adventure of a Lifetime flooded my eardrums with nostalgia. The tune that defined the last trip I took with my friends haunted me to the last. Gazing out across the horizon I met the sun which painted the sky with all sorts of majestic colors. The waves danced under the spotlight of the sunset.
That’s when the light breached my clouded mind.
The simple pleasures that we take for granted make up most of our time on this earth. A cool summer breeze or the embrace of a loved one. The song that originally seemed to taunt my situation took on a new meaning. The adventure of our lifetime rests in the laughs we share with those we care about.
While this adoption of ideology improved my mental situation, it led me to question practically everything.
Chief among these concerns stood the question of gratitude. In a world so fine-tuned in natural order, why does humanity fail to recognize its blessings? The glory of the world sheets the expanse of the land we call home, but we only give national thanks one day a year. It took an international health crisis for many, including me, to realize how good we truly have it. This train of thought led me to question the flip side of the coin. With life comes death.
Water quite literally keeps us alive. Besides its clear use, the simplistic beauty of it leaves it comparable to none. However, water retains an immensely destructive capacity leaving devastation in its wake. Covid taught me the fragility of life. What gives it so much weight is the temporality of it. Once again, it took a global catastrophe for us to realize the uncertainty of life. Those with close encounters or loved ones no longer with them know this. At any moment, our clock can stop ticking.
The seconds or minutes remaining should be cherished with every ounce of available enthusiasm.
This isn’t meant to leave you shivering in bed, fearing if your next breath will be your last. It’s to encourage you to appreciate all that we have.
Some people claim that once they land the top position in their field, that their life will be complete. I’m not knocking their pursuit, but I am pleading that you realize the timer started long ago. Work hard for your future, but know it isn’t always guaranteed. That date where you got your first kiss, the night your friends belted out a song amidst wild laughter, the first time you watched your now favorite movie. This composes the marrow of life. You don’t know what you have until its gone.
Losing the ability to see those I love left me in pieces. The realization that I am still alive put me back together again. “Live, laugh, love” may sound like a cheesy piece of house décor, but it holds truth. Take every day one step at a time. The year gone by held no punches. Walk away with hope for tomorrow and love for today.