I may not know you and you may not know me, yet we have something in common. We have both been on a personal journey. From the moment we were born, we’ve been travelers. Whether it’s been long or short, easy or hard, it’s still a journey that you have taken that has brought you to this place. For this moment, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about life.
For me, I’ve had thirty years of living experience. That may not seem like a very long time, but in the context of a one hundred year lifespan, I hit the quarter mark of my possible life five years ago. Regardless of how long you perceive it, I’ve learned much in the time I’ve been given.
There were seasons of life that I walked very slowly, opening my heart to every detail. I would mentally record all the stunning embellishments that would later create these outstandingly beautiful memories. I skipped happily down those paths of light, savoring the warmth and goodness of a perfect moment. Other times I ran, usually down paths that weren’t trod flat, roads that were dark and scary, where things awaited to trip me up or drag me down. I always hesitated at forks, where two roads would diverge and I had to make a choice. One would be the obvious choice, where light spilled around and everything was so clear and certain. Sometimes I would take the predictable path, where there wasn’t conflict or mystery, especially when I felt the weakest. Other times I felt compelled to take the road littered with the unknown, where the light was a mere flicker at the end. Those roads were always a challenge, stepping one timid foot behind the other.
I learned that you should always keep your face in the light, absorbing that energy and peace to store for the days when there is only dark. Days without light would inevitably come. I learned that the pitter-patter of the rain had rhythm and the rays of the sun had a song. Every step of life taught me that it was important to learn how to dance to both. Details have meaning, even if they are details that don’t seem like they would be very significant. The softness of a gentle kiss, the strength of a friendly embrace, the bubbly pattern of laughter on the air.
On my darkest days, I learned the hardest truths. You will hurt others, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. You will be hurt, by friends and family alike, and even blood will not always be thick enough to keep a bond together. You’ll outgrow people and people will outgrow you, but it doesn’t imply they never had meaning in your life or you in theirs. You’ll have your heart broken at least once, but you’ll fall in love again despite the fragmented pieces. You’ll learn when to walk away and when to go back, and you’ll learn that home will only ever be where the heart is. I learned that there are times when you can’t go back, when some bridges are just meant to be burned to the ground for your own good. I’ve learned that death does not discriminate and life must sometimes be carried on without people you love. I learned that disease and accident can happen to anybody, at any age, and that you must hold on when it seems so much easier to let go. No matter how hard it is, it will always get better. It may take a very long time, but you eventually forgive and you heal, you learn to move on and live again. Life may not be the same after, but it’s still a life worth living.
Life also taught me that the scariest road is occasionally a necessary walk. Though I thoroughly enjoy leisurely walks, the harder ones taught me strength and endurance. It’s acceptable to forgive without a reunion. Being given grace and good will causes you to want to extend it. Patience and kindness are true virtues, anger and hate are vices that will only eat you alive on the inside. Prayer or meditation are readily available to you at any time, and they both can do great things for the soul. Exercise is important, so is a healthy diet. Love is the greatest gift you can give anyone. These are just some of the learned lessons from my life’s trek that have made my mind and body healthier.
I look back at the person I used to be and I reflect on the path that I took to get to the person I am now. In no way am I perfect, though I don’t believe that perfection is the point. It’s not about being better than one person or the other, but about being a better you. I believe that every individual journey is about personal growth. What’s important is how you apply what you’ve learned, no matter how negative or positive the experiences. The point is to make you a better person than you were yesterday and to work to be better tomorrow than you are today.
The key to all of it is knowing that you’ll always be imperfect but acknowledging that it’s OK to have flaws. It’s alright to mess up. It’s alright to make mistakes, even if you make the same ones over and over again. Though I’ve learned much, I have to work hard to apply all I’ve learned to every single day hereafter. I’ve forgotten lessons and had to relearn them. I’ve shelved lessons learned, feeling like it’s just easier to stop extending grace and patience or love to everyone. The real difference comes from what you do to remedy your mistakes and the genuine effort you put forth in an attempt to be a good person. Some days that just means forgiving yourself and trying again, and accepting that many others around you are also forgiving themselves and trying again. After all, every one of us is only human and it’s alright to be just that.