Sunday, January 9, 2011

By and By

"Keep on living."

That's what my mother says my great-grandmother would often offer as advice. These words could be understood in modern terms as words of encouragement, emphasizing that life must be lived to the fullest. But these words from my great-grandmother had a hint of admonition in their encouragement. In our family these strict words mean, "You've still got some growing to do. Be patient and life will teach you many more lessons."

I remind myself of this life lesson often. I don't know about you, but sometimes I realize, "Hey, what do I know? I'm still pretty young...." Some of the things I feel most confident one month about are subject to change years, months or even weeks later. My opinions, thoughts and ideals are subject to change. Furthermore, what's good today might be bad tomorrow; what's easy today might be hard tomorrow and so on. How are we, the young adults of the world, to know about life except that we continue to live in the present moment - to keep being open, present and aware and to keep learning from life?

Sometimes in life our friends and relatives will hold a mirror to our faces and teach us something difficult about ourselves. This happened to me today. I told a friend of mine my wishes for his happiness and luck in love and he questioned why I was more concerned with his happiness and well-being than my own. I admitted that I struggle with love and intimacy and that I can be pessimistic about whether or not love will appear in my life. After the discussion I felt down and started to cry. But then it occurred to me, "Hey, I'm young. Who knows?" There isn't a need to feel too down about anything. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe that day will bring us laughter and joy, or maybe it'll bring difficulty. All we can do is slow down and be patient, observe our environment and ourselves, and use our moral and principled judgment to understand the world. And what better advice to teach us to relax and let life unfold than the easy, breezy words, "Keep on living"?

So, I say be cheery, my friends. As they say in the old hymn, "We'll understand it better by and by."

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