September 9, 2013

Reflective moments — Joy

Photo credit: Avery Carlton
Most of us focus on what's wrong in our lives; how we could be there instead of here. We are constantly looking to greener pastures; a place where the rest of our life is waiting with a reserved seat. We idealize "the grass is greener" phenomenon, even when we don't realize it. We fail to appreciate what we already have, nevermind that we probably have what others might deem ideal and a dream to attain.  Thinking about our lot in life can rub us of real joy—one that comes with genuine appreciation, when we realize we are blessed.  Question becomes, what will ever fill our Joy tank?  Does it really matter where we are? Would be? Should be?  What's the guarentee attaining what we want would bring us joy and satisfaction?

I ponder over these questions now, regularly.  The turn of events in my own life make me realize life is not only fair, but good.  I'm in a good place, I always have been to think of it, even in my dire straights.  No matter how unfortunate some of the events in my life have been, I'm still better off than, say a girl in a ravaged third world country, probably mutilated and raped by predators surrounding her everyday.  Not to diminish my own hardships, but I realize the silver lining; I got through them.  I've had to make some bold changes lately, ones that take courage.  The rewards so far—far-reaching.  Resigning to accepting the idea of Life being unfair to me would be defeatist to say the least.  My life so far have played out in a way that I set the tone, aware of it or not.  Oprah once said she wrote on a journal consecutively for 12 years.  In it she wrote down five things she was grateful for everyday, that way she never failed to appreciate the little things that brought her joy; at the end of the day, that's what matters.

The daily rigors of life can be the Joy robber.  It can be a very demanding work schedule, the boss at work that you swear is responsible for your miserable life, always giving you an unfairly heavy workload that constantly pulls you away from quality family time.  The demands on your personal time, the efforts you put in to make sure that a house built by another man functions at it's best has got you fantasizing about your own; that one day you'd want a company with your name on it.  It can be, just simply, a toxic work environment, toxic friends, an abusive partner that has you fantasizing about getting out.   Maybe it's living in an impoverished society where the employment rate is less than ten percent, you're an unemployed graduate and you watch as it seems, as folks drive down roads mined with potholes in fancy cars to their gated mansions.  In that same society, it seems some folks have it easy, they have plenty of money to throw around, while you have no money for breakfast.  You imagine that one day, you will make it BIG; fly out of your hell hole of a country to greener pastures where money grows on trees.  Maybe, you've already done that, you're now on a rat race to the American dream.  You left a well established firm in your home country to try your chance at being American; you're in America and things don't quite play out like your fantasies—you don't get the mansion and fancy cars you imagined you'd get within a short time span you've given yourself.  In fact, you find out Americans have the same dreams and fantasies, they idolize celebrities who seem to have it all; too much money that requires an accountant to manage, luxurious mansions, top of the line driving machines, designer duds that cost more than a working class' annual salary and mortgage, adoring fans, etc.  You can spend the rest of your life trying to be an American.

So you become an American and now you want to be a celebrity; you revel in that fantasy.  Everything else seem mundane and ordinary.  Life doesn't really begin for you just yet until you attain the high status.  You imagine the rush, the high you must feel when you finally arrive.  You imagine being intoxicated in the life.  One thing with being in such a state of euphoria is your problems just seem to dissipate; you feel nothing.  Somehow you'd transform into a formidable force, undestructive, invincible character.  The life you knew no longer exist, you couldn't be flinched with reality.  You imagine that's what life must be like when you attain success.  You do everything in your power in the pursuit of Power; on it's narrow and slippery road, you fake it till you make it.  Even amongst your peers now, they drive down the road screeching the pavement, so you can notice their Mercedes G550 (life must be good for those in luxury vehicles!).

You attain celebrity status, you're now living the life you've always dreamed of.  Life on this side of the ocean is veeeerrry diferent, it rocks!  It's lavish, people seem to have no problems; they are always smiling at you, you've become the new best friend. Once a nobody with no friends, you have lots of them now. You have people catering to you; the most energy you'd expend is uttering words out of your mouth, even that has a price tag.  To think of it, your life—once an entity without value, has a price tag.  Your name demands price, your presence is costly.  Shocking enough, though it might be, there's an abundance of people to pay for it.  Your life has a price even costly to you; it's not free.  You're faced with intense pressure, one that you've never known, you couldn't imagine it, you couldn't be prepared enough for it.  You thought you had disproportionate demands and pressure when you counted your dollars and cents on a paycheck, but the new set is unmatched by anything you've ever experienced.  You now make REAL money, you could probably throw some at just about any problem to make it disappear.  Jay Z is noted saying that the worst anybody could do to him now is sue him.  "What's a couple of dollars to me" he said.  There's an ever increasing demand on your time.  You become a target of just about anyone, you don't know whose out for you or against you. You develop trust issues, emotional distress.  Unwatched, unmanaged, things can really spiral out of control.  You make new friends, because the old ones just won't cut it.  Your new friends—Coke, Pot, Vodka and all their cousins become very dependable; much so that you find yourself lost without them.  You find it hard to function like a normal human being without them as your sidekicks.  The life you once fantasized about, you now have it and it's no longer yours.  It hits you when you realize drones of folks hang on to your every word and gesture.  They're counting on you to guide them.  You became responsible for the world, as undesirable as that might be.

Now you have a different fantasy—you now want a life that's not riddled with complications.  You crave for the times when life was just simple. You want a NORMAL life.  You wish folks would just leave you alone, you want to crawl under a rock and disappear.  At this crucial point is the time to re-examine the important things in life.  Not everyone is lucky to make it back home after being away for so long.  Question yet again would be: do we take the time to reflect on our lives and appreciate it?  Do we write on our mental journal everyday the five things we are grateful for?  That's important if we don't want to lose our way.

Reflecting on my own life, I have come to appreciate the simple things; I'm very content in them.  Arriving at this appreciation is not without cost to my livelihood.  I realize, there are no forces against me.  I can decide to LIVE.  I can make conscious choices as opposed to leaving them up to the universe and hope everything align at their proper place without a hinge.  I decide how my life plays out, I will not be afraid to demand for what's rightfully mine and not feel contrite.  Most importantly, Life is good!

Thanks for reading.
I appreciate you.

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