What does life mean? Is life simply the time we exist? Or is there much more to it? Pretty deep questions to try and tackle…especially by someone who blogs about trips to the bathroom, his odd behaviors, and from the perspective of his dog, a squirrel, and an imaginary Aunt.
This time of year is particularly difficult for me. I lost both of my parents at a fairly young age…both right around this time of year. Each year, around this time, I fall into the pattern of thinking of them, thinking of my past with them, and thinking about what life is all about. I frequently start to feel sorry for myself, mope around, and become a drag. I usually have a harder time falling asleep and spend a lot of free time drifting in my mind. All this translates into me being a difficult person to be around.
This year has been no exception. I have been on two business trips over the past few weeks, which is probably good for my family and co-workers. Being away from home has given me ample time to think. Time in the hotel and, more frequently, time in the airport. However, my thoughts took a left turn last Sunday.
As I walked to my gate at O'Hare to wait for my flight, I noticed the flight had been delayed for almost an hour. I settled into a seat to spend drifting in thought. I started looking around me, letting my eyes slowly go out of focus. Then, off to my left I noticed an older mom, holding a young baby, and talking to a little boy in a wheelchair. This little boy, probably 8 or 9, appeared to be mentally handicapped, having a hard time communicating. However, he was having no problem telling each person who walked by him "goodbye".
As I sat watching this family, my first thought was how tough it must be for the lady to travel with the two kids. My next thought was how the little boy in the wheelchair seemed to be such a happy little boy…even with the tough things he was having to deal with. He would frequently do things to make the baby laugh, which then would make him laugh. Then I started wishing I had some way I could close my eyes, concentrate, and take away all the things that seem to make his life hard.
Then, a voice inside me said, "stop feeling sorry for those people". The mom seemed to be fine taking care of her kids. The young boy, as I said, was having a good time playing with his young sister. Why had I felt so compelled to focus in on the negatives of this family? Yes, they obviously had challenges that would make their life tough….but they seemed to be fine, going about their life in a great way.
This all brings me back to my first thoughts….what is life and what keeps people going? To me, that family knew more about what life is than I do. Life is loving yourself….loving those around you….being part of those around you. "Those" can be your spouse, your kids, your parents, your friends, your neighbors, your pet….anyone. Life is interacting with your world. Not being afraid of the pain and suffering that comes with living. Life is not always easy. For some it sure looks to be hard. For others, it seems easy (at least on the surface). But in reality, life has its ups and downs for everyone.
That little boy in the wheelchair understood it. He knew that life should be chuckles and hugs and fun…even when others around him (like the knucklehead wearing the Cubs jersey – aka me) felt sorry for him. That little boy gets it.
Yes, life for me has had some pretty sad events. But it has had some pretty awesome ones too. I have a wonderful family, great friends, and the chance to laugh a lot. Life is good…just absent a few special people.
And most of all, my life was fortunate enough to cross paths with someone who really understands what life is about. Thanks little guy. I owe you one.