My mind’s been preoccupied ever since a conversation I had with a friend during our coffee date last week. We had met to catch up and chat and, as girlfriends often do, our conversation took us to many different directions and touched on many topics.
At some point, our talk turned to life in general and how we define it. I heard myself say that I didn’t think life to be great. As you can imagine, that drew some attention-mine and my friend’s both. I spent the next few minutes trying to express myself, only to realize that I couldn’t do so coherently at the time. Nothing I said sounded as succinct as my feelings, which weren’t in the form of words and phrases, but emotional images swirling inside my head and stirring in my heart. So, I had to just resign to the fact that, as strongly as I felt about what I felt, I wasn’t capable of explaining my feelings then and there.
I realized quickly that if I indeed think that life isn’t great, that is a huge revelation, It’s also kind of unconventional and frowned upon by today’s society. We live in the era of self-help books, inspirational gurus and the general dreamy beliefs that life is beautiful and we all posses the key to betterment, fulfillment and enlightenment. Agnosticism, doubt and skepticism in this area have been lumped under the undesirable titles such as pessimism, negativity and general gloominess. Those who question life and its inherent goodness have been called depressed, hopeless and unhappy. And yet, I am certain of one thing about myself: even though I am a “doubter” of life’s inherent goodness, I am not depressed, hopeless or unhappy.
The thing is, I have had no choice but to learn from my life’s realities. I am incapable of losing sight of the course my life has taken. I’ve lived through a revolution at the age of ten. I’ve witnessed war at the age of 12. I lost my homeland at 13. I’ve lived through multiple countries, multiple languages, multiple lives, multiple selves, all before turning 18. And, skipping all unfortunate and sad turns of events since then, finding myself in the Land of Infertility (IF) fives years ago, without a way to escape or find relief, has not done much to restore my faith in the automatic goodness of life. I will only say that living with IF has been as sad as losing one dear and loved person every month for five consecutive years and counting.
I am only too familiar with life’s habit of throwing us about like rag dolls and psyching us out at every corner. And personally, I cannot look at what I’ve experienced and hold the belief that life’s great. It’s not. It’s hard, it’s unfair, it’s unpredictable, it’s sad and sometimes it’s almost too much to endure. No amount of self-help reading (which I’ve done), therapy (which I’ve done), or positive affirmation (which I’ve done) could convince me that my life’s been what it’s been due to my own making and that if I only believed differently, a different and happier life would have unfolded before me to savor and enjoy.
But (and this is a BIG but), I also live a life that contains many happy and beautiful moments, which I cherish, adore and hold dear. For me, life is hard and sad, but it’s also filled with fleeting beauty, warmth, comfort, meaning, light and sparkle. And I’ve learned to truly enjoy the short-lived and invaluable good as fully as I can, in order to be sustained during the inevitable difficulties and harshness life brings to all of us. This way of thinking has enabled me to celebrate the smallest things with the biggest of joys and appreciation. Things that seem insignificant to most bring me immense amounts of bliss. When I feel the happiness of life, I feel it in every fiber of my body, because I know what a rare and extraordinary feeling I am experiencing.
A stranger pays me a compliment, and I blossom for days. Someone likes a piece I wrote, and I memorize his/her kind words in order to cherish them for the rest of my life. I experience a perfect moment with a a friend, and I file that experience in my mind and pull it out every once in while and live off its warm glow. I spend a perfect afternoon doing nothing of great significance, and the memory of that day will live with me for always. I celebrate sunny days, perfect mani/pedis, a box of colorful macarons, my favorite song played on the radio and a day spent at the museum. I feel high when spring arrives, dance when my birthday makes me a year older, and experience pure joy just holding my husband’s hand when we walk our dog, Stella.
So, let it never be said that I don’t live a great life, when there’s greatness in life. I’m just very aware that at all times, life is also hard, tough and sad.
I dedicate this piece to all the happy and wonderful moments of life to come, especially the one when I finally get to be a mom to my baby to be. I wait for you and and I look for you in every corner and I promise to savor you when you finally arrive.