I am not a psychologist. Or psychoanalyst. Or any other person that gives you the option of lying down on a couch in my office, while we talk.
But I’ve gotten a lot of emails and posts from people in real pain looking for real answers. I know I don’t have all the answers. But there is one question I got two days ago. And I’ve gotten this a lot of times. It’s some version of, ‘Why would I want to live in this world with so many bad things in it?’ And I do have an answer for that one.
The way of the samurai is to live life so fully that you accept death if it comes. That is very different from ‘Why am I living in this bad world?’ That’s giving up and giving in. It seems hopeless. If that is what you are thinking, you need to shape your world differently. There’s a whole better world out there waiting for you. You need to find things worth living for, and live your life in and around those things.
There are an infinite amount of reasons that you should want to live in this world.
Look around. Really see things in this world. It could be a trip across country or a trip down the block. The beauty alone is reason enough to live. I have seen the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building thousands of times, but still get awestruck when I really look at them. I’m amazed when I catch the incredibly detailed architecture of an old brownstone or the bright green interior of the grass at Yankee stadium. I don’t care if you live in a big city or in the middle of nowhere or somewhere in between…there is beauty all around you, waiting to take your breath away.
Sometimes it takes reminding to notice that beauty. Consider this a reminder to open your eyes again.
You should want to live in this world for the people in it. Yes, there are bad people. And they make headlines and blanket the evening news. And they cut you off in their cars, and screw you over on business deals, and break something that you lent them. But there are millions of people out there doing great things; real heroes, really saving lives, really enriching lives. But for some reason the masses are drawn to the violence and gore and that’s why it makes headlines. For some reason, the masses let a guy who cuts you off on the road ruin a perfectly good morning. Don’t be one of the masses. Stop watching the news. Relax about all this petty stuff from people. The ratio of bad people to great people in the world is probably 1 to 1000. And 1 to 100,000 good people.
Maybe you are in a tight circle of people who are all bad. If so, get another circle. Surround yourself with the kind of people that make you want to live so much that you would die for them. Pin up heroes articles and pictures on your cubicle, on your desk, on your mirror. Surround yourself with the inspiration of the world’s greats…there are many.
Then there are the little things…sunrises, smiles on children’s faces, tight hugs from a loved one, pure, unedited fun. For promotions at work, for pats on the back for jobs well done, and jobs perfectly done. For a great movie that makes you burst out of the theatre ready to conquer the world, for a great book that makes you think and think and think, and for a great song that compels you to cut off a conversation and turn up the volume. Live for the breath of fresh air that fills your home the first day of spring and a crisp, cool glass of water when you are thirsty on a hot day. Live for the smell of your favorite meal when you walk in the door or the taste of something you’ve never tried before but instantly becomes your new obsession. You can live for jokes that buckles you over in laughter, for hour long conversations that make you wonder where the time went, and memories that warm your heart. For proud parents or siblings. For proud sons and daughters. Live for your good fortune so you have the opportunity to help out the less fortunate.
The reasons to live can be so simple. If you aren’t getting enough of these incredible little things in your world, make a conscious effort to incorporate them into your daily routine.
Even in our darkest times, we see lights all over the place. Now, they may be in the distance, but they are there. And there are so many of them. Taken singularly, each one of the lights is reason enough to live. That yearning and striving, that passion to see every one of them up close is reason enough to live.
And if none of that is moving you in any way…just live for great moments. In the end, our moments are really all we have. Fill more of yours with laughter. Fill more of yours with love. With friendship. With adventure. With successes. With triumphs. With smiles. With warmth. With anticipation of something even better. Don’t just have moments, have great moments. And live for those.
I want to close with something I just read in Alan Moore’s graphic novel, Watchmen.
“Is it possible, I wonder, to study a bird so closely, to observe and catalogue its peculiarities in such minute detail, that it becomes invisible? Is it possible that while fastidiously calibrating the span of its wings or the length of its tarsus, we somehow lose sight of its poetry?”
Sometimes we get so caught up in the messy details surrounding our daily life we don’t see the bigger picture. We get so fogged in by the immediate minutia that surrounds us, that we can’t see through to the gloriousness of it all. We can analyze and overanalyze every aspect our lives. Every aspect of the entire world looked at through our powerful microscopes. And it makes us forget, not just how amazing life can be, but how amazing life actually is. Right now.
Use anything you can to elevate above that fog.
Don’t lose sight of the poetry in this world. Don’t lose site of the poetry in your life.