“Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band, and most of us live somewhere in the middle.”
— Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie)
I like to meet people who defy what I think is.. survivable? I don’t know if that makes any sense.
1) I have a really funny Poli Sci professor for my ridiculously long 3 hour night class. The first night of class, he’s giving us his spiel of where he’s been, what he’s done, etc. Then he says: “I have 2 beautiful little girls, one of which my wife died giving birth to.” Instead of pausing for dramatic effect, which my brain was already doing for me, dude keeps on going with his life story. Giving us only a brief glimpse into this traumatic moment in his life. Now everytime we have class, instead of listening to him talk about African Politics, all I’m thinking is “how did you survive that?” “are you happy?”
2) I’ve been on a documentary kick lately. Maybe because its one of my dreams to make one, but this fall break while I was stuck in Knoxville, TN, and all my azians went home, I ate two pints of ice cream and watched Netflix. My favorite documentary that I watched was called the Human Experience.
It was about two 20 something year olds who travel the world talking to the homeless, the orphaned, and the diseased, trying to figure out “the meaning of life.” I went downtown in Nashville with some LU friends a few years ago to talk to some homeless people and give them free pizza, because who doesn’t want free pizza? One man and I talked for a good hour on the steps of a church basically about..well I can’t really remember. Something to do with how angry and happy he was all at the same time. I’ve worked with orphans in Mexico and literally had my heart rocked by the simple joy they have. One thing I’ve never truly experienced is disease. In the film, the guys went to Ghana to talk to Lepers. These people are known as “untouchables.” Their eyes are bulging from their faces, they look mutated, disturbing. And they love each other. They are, happy.
3) So I know this picture is sort of sickening, but it makes a point. This guy got his face shot off. Good God, what would you do if this happened to you? The after picture is shocking too, how incredibly advanced the world has become to fix this kind of thing. But even though his face has been pieced back together, what about his heart? Can you repair that kind of damage? Can you heal a wound that deep?
We all know how to survive.
It is ingrained into our DNA: eat, sleep, breathe, repeat. But how do you heal? Is there a how-to book on how to deal with life? Well duh, there are millions, but still…I see these people, these stories, and it amazes me. Our pain is all different, and yet all the same. We are put in this world to be broken, I think. Its like the quote above says, we’re all just like rubber-bands: being pulled, and stretched, and somehow bouncing right back.
“You want to do something, but you are bound to do something else.”
My professor didn’t choose for his wife to die, but she did.The lepers in the documentary didn’t choose to become infected with a disease that would make their sons and daughters disown them, but they were infected anyway.People don’t choose to be gay, or autistic, or wounded, or broken, or left in this world. Most of the pains in my life I have put upon myself, which is pretty embarrassing after meeting and hearing these people’s stories.
Survival is innate in all of us, but happiness is a pursuit, a journey.
To see these people find it though is pretty inspiring.
In other news, I’m grateful for my roommates who put up with me blasting Red by T-Swift on repeat every morning and my new obsession with Friday Night Lights, even though I’m pretty sure they secretly love it.
“the breathtaking reality of a new, unrepeatable, unprecedented
adventure of a human life.”
— The Human Experience